Marijuana Business Magazine October 2018

T ake your pick: CO 2 … hydrocarbon … or ethanol? Determining which extraction method is best for your can- nabis company comes down to what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to produce full-spectrum cannabis oil? Is safety your primary concern? Do you need to process a large amount of marijuana flower ASAP? When evaluating extraction methods, these criteria are key: • Cost of production and equipment • Quality of the end product • Safety • Production efficiency and throughput In CO 2 extraction, carbon dioxide is pressurized in metal tanks until it becomes a supercritical fluid, then the fluid pulls out the desirable com- pounds from flower.The fluid is then separated, leaving only the concen- trates, including hash oil, shatter and budder. Hydrocarbon extraction typically refers to using butane or propane as a solvent that’s passed through the raw cannabis matter to collect the can- nabinoids and terpenes.The solvent with the essential oils is then heated up to evaporate off the butane or propane, leaving behind the extract. Ethanol extraction is conducted by soaking raw cannabis in ethanol to pull the trichomes into the solvent.The cannabis is then removed, the liquid is filtered and the alcohol purged from the extracted material. Whatever your goals may be, each of the three main types of cannabis extrac- tion has its strengths and its weaknesses – with no hands- down favorite among industry executives. “It’s tough to pigeonhole one extraction process as being optimal,” said Jim Makoso, co-owner and vice president of Lucid Labs, an extrac- tion branding and licensing company with locations in Nevada and Washington state. “There is no one process that’s better over another without putting qualifying statements on there.” In the following pages, experts who make their living extracting cannabinoids shared their preferences as well as the pros and cons of their chosen method. Weighing the pros and cons of CO 2 , hydrocarbon and ethanol extraction methods By Bart Schaneman EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Each method of cannabis extraction – be it CO2, hydrocarbon or ethanol – has benefits and drawbacks. Which type of extraction you should be using depends on your priorities for the final product. In this package, master extractors shared the following insights for determining the method that provides the best solution for a variety of needs: • CO2 extraction systems are the most expensive, given the steep upfront price tag for buying the technology. Hydrocarbon systems, by comparison, are the cheapest. • The quality of the final product depends on the cannabis extract you’re seeking to produce. In general, each type of extraction has pros and cons. • CO2 is the safest method. While potentially fatal if leaking into a room without the proper sensors, CO2 won’t turn your facility into an exploding fireball – unlike hydrocarbon extraction. • Ethanol extraction is the most efficient at capturing simple cannabinoids, while hydrocarbon is most efficient at capturing the essence of the whole plant. October 2018 • Marijuana Business Magazine • 57