By Lev Kelman
Royal Hemp, LLC
Let’s talk about the cannabis extraction methods available today. There are three conventional methods: Butane (gas lighter fluid), CO2 (carbon dioxide) and Ethanol (alcohol) extraction. They are all very similar in processing the chemicals and producing THC oil concentrate. Cannabis biomass is soaked in either Butane or CO2 liquid gas, and THC oil concentrate floats in this gas. Then the THC oil concentrate gets collected and 99.999 % of the Butane or CO2 is evaporated. The Ethanol extraction method is similar, whereby the cannabis biomass is mixed with Ethanol or alcohol and then the alcohol gets evaporated, leaving THC oil concentrate at 99.999% pure.
Butane and CO2 extraction should not be used in edibles or drinkables. When you are vaping or dabbing or smoking, the THC oil concentrate made with Butane and CO2 is consumed as a smoke and thus burned or evaporated out before it reaches the lungs. However, when you are eating or drinking the THC oil concentrate that is 99.999% free from Butane and CO2, that .0001% stays in your system. If you are using edibles or drinkables to help you sleep, combat depression, intensify exercise, to have fun or for whatever reason, you are unknowingly poisoning your body with harmful chemicals like Butane and CO2. Many people use edibles daily or almost every day, and there is no shame in it, as cannabis is one of the best medicines without harmful side effects in treating many conditions. That .0001% is staying in your body and accumulates over 3-5 years of use of edibles or drinkables. While that amount seems almost insignificant, over time it will accumulate. Assuming ingesting and metabolizing 10 mg of this oil 365 days a year over 5 years, this would result in over 2.8 grams of pure Butane and/or CO2 in your system. Unfortunately, this can lead to poisoning and other toxic conditions that doctors generally don’t know the source of. Would you eat something that you know has Butane (lighter fluid) or CO2 (carbon dioxide)? Most people will answer of course not! So next time you want to buy edibles or drinkables, you may want to inquire as to how it was made – specifically what extraction method was used by the company producing the product.
What about the safety of Ethanol or alcohol extraction? The famous RSO or Rick Simpson Oil is made with alcohol and has been touted to cure cancer and other conditions. If you are an alcoholic trying to quit but you are consuming edibles or drinkables that are made with Ethanol or alcohol, you could potentially trigger your alcohol dependency because these extraction methods include traces of alcohol or Ethanol. There have been studies indicating that alcohol is 114 times more damaging than cannabis. Instead of doing research on cleaner THC delivery methods for their products, large cannabis companies are maximizing their profits by utilizing substandard Butane and CO2 extraction methods.
Another concern with these extraction methods in edibles is the capability of removing the taste of cannabis altogether. While this may appeal to those who eschew the flavor of cannabis, it creates a disturbing problem in that the potential for abuse – whether knowingly or unknowingly – could occur. Imagine being given an edible that is devoid of cannabis flavor and not knowing that you were dosed – masquerading as a regular gummy, chocolate, or drink? One could become incapacitated over several hours and possibly not remember or recall any of the experience – nor the ability to do anything about it. Do we need another date-rape drug?
In the US, people are largely free to do or to buy whatever they want. We should be advocating for “truth in labeling” which will clearly specify on the package what kind of extraction method is utilized by the company producing the edibles or drinkables. This will allow patrons to make informed decisions to either buy healthier edibles and drinkables or buy those with Butane or CO2. We are delightfully still a country of choices.
There are a few new players in the edibles market that use proprietary extraction methods. One product, Edge Off™ chocolates, made by Royal Hemp LLC in Oregon, does not use Butane, CO2 or Ethanol, and the company’s mission is to create the healthiest, cleanest, and safest edibles available. Edge Off™ is made with dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free fair trade dark chocolate and is packed in biodegradable rice-paper bags. The taste is unique as fine chocolate can be, with a distinct cacao and cannabis flavor profile that harmonizes its healthy and clean THC extraction method with the benefits of dark chocolate
The larger question overall begs, what constitutes healthy edibles and drinkables? Are gummies healthy? What should an educated consumer look for on labels of healthy edible or drinkable products? Most edible gummies are made of 50% sugar. For example, one 16 gram gummy contains 8 grams of sugar. Compare that to a dark chocolate edible such as Edge Off™ which contains only 2 grams of sugar for the same serving size. There is no debate over whether dark chocolate is healthier than gummies. And for vegans or those allergic to gluten or soy, there are only a few suitable products available today, Edge Off™ being one of them.
For patrons of Oregon dispensaries, Edge Off™ is becoming widely available. Thankfully good choices for consuming healthy edibles now exist. Consume wisely, consume healthfully, consume often!