The resinous oil of the cannabis plant consists of cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. This oil is
sequestered in hair-like glandular trichomes protruding from the surface of the leaves and female inflorescences (buds). The psychoactive cannabinoid
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) have for centuries been revered (albeit
ambiguously) for their recreational and medicinal
properties. Historically, the preferred delivery method
for cannabinoids was smoking the dried plant material.
Since the early 1900s, extraction of cannabinoids from
the plant by relatively non-polar solvents has gained
popularity, skyrocketing since the turn of the millennium. In October 2016, Inform magazine’s cover story,
“The highs and lows of cannabis testing” reviewed the
equipment, methods, and standard procedures analytical laboratories use to measure potency and identify contaminants in cannabis products. This follow-up
article takes a look at the variety of extraction and purification methods used to make cannabis concentrates,
as well as the safety concerns of the methods themselves and the resulting concentrated products.
The utility of extraction is easy to understand: Concentrates serve
as the feedstock for myriad infused products with mass appeal—edibles,
capsules, tinctures, transdermal patches, topical lotions and creams, and
beverages—that arose from the attempt to mitigate health risks related
to inhaling combusted marijuana. The vaporization of concentrates also
offers a more healthful option than smoking, while the fast onset of THC
and CBD vapor blurs the line between medical and recreational use in
such a way that the vape cartridge has become the delivery method of
choice for patients and tourists alike.
for better quality,