The rise of cannabis oils has been one of the biggest and most surprising drivers of the total cannabis industry. Cannabis oils, related consumer devices, and derivative edibles now take up a good portion of the retail space in your typical dispensary in legal-use states, such as Washington.
Demand for liquid oils, waxes and emulsions is due to the convergent rise of the use of vaping devices and the growth of the legal recreational market, where there is an increasing concentration of non-smokers who use cannabis products on fewer occasions. There is also growth in health and wellness, as knowledge of medicinal benefits increases; for instance, Texas recently legalized cannabis oils for use in alleviating seizures.
As awareness and use increases across industry lines, extraction companies such as Sound CO2 will be vital for manufacturers and retailers alike because consistency can be challenging to achieve. Sound CO2 is a Washington state-based cannabis extraction company that was a first-mover in laboratory testing for dispensaries; its reputation is solidly built on a commitment to rigorous quality control standards that include testing each batch for possible contamination, to check potency, and to ensure the desired cannabinoid profile has been achieved.
According to Klaas Hesselink, the company’s CEO, “with a refined extraction process, we can ensure quality and, more importantly, reliability.” The company is influencing the market in this way, both locally and on a greater scale with its leading-edge extraction methods and focus on top-line products as well as its continued innovation to streamline processes. Inconsistency is not uncommon in this market, which has led Sound CO2 to invest in quality control assurance.
O.penVAPE, the company’s retail-facing partner, as well as similar brands, rely on best lab practices to gain loyal customers. Brands will continue to grow only if the users’ quality of experience meets or exceeds expectations, which can be difficult as there is plenty of room for error.
THC is a type of essential oil or aromatic terpenoid of the cannabis plant. THC is found primarily in the trichomes of leafs or resin glands that grow in the flowers. Hashish is probably the most historically known cannabis oil product which is a simple pressed block of cannabis trichomes that has been harvested from cannabis plants using mechanical separation methods such as grinding, sifting and separation by hand. This production process, however, leaves high levels of impurities and plant debris in the final product which gives hashish its distinctive look and flavor.
Modern essential oil separation methods, including the use of solvents and high pressure environments, is the more common production process used by cannabis oil product producers, and really all essential oil producers, today. The use of modern oil separation processes allows producers to create a more uniform, pure and customizable final product in terms of THC concentration and potency. THC, because it is an oil, does not dissolve in water, but it does dissolve in other types of solvents like hexane, butane or supercritical liquid CO2. Once dissolution is completed to a certain specification, then it is a matter of separating the purified essential oil from the solvent.
With leading-edge separation methods and best practices, the potential of oils is unlimited. Sound CO2 recognizes this and is focused on ensuring purity and control over the level of THC in the final vaping and/or edible product, which gives the final product formulator the power to create new products for certain types of end users such as people looking for low-THC dose options or products that have little to no aftertaste. It also enables essential oil producers to create new intermediate product forms such as oil emulsions specially formulated for use in prepared foods or cannabis oil powders using microencapsulation technologies, which can have pharmaceutical applications.
In the long run, the oil products market has the potential to be the primary revenue center of the cannabis industry, and also the source of future consumer product innovation for years to come. It will be innovative companies with a commitment to quality assurance, such as Sound CO2, that will pave the way.