The use of cannabinoids has become a hot topic over the last several years, particular for the pharmaceutical industry, as the hemp industry turns its eye toward pharma tech to meet growing public demands. Aside from ongoing political opposition, the real struggle is in keeping up with demand for a quality product. That’s why manufacturers are now turning to the pharmaceutical industry for their proven processing technology.
“Companies spanning the world over are working together to quickly develop large-scale hemp extraction machines. It is this kind of technology that is needed to be able to process hundreds or thousands of kilograms of cannabis or hemp biomass for pharmaceutical cannabinoids, on a daily basis. In the United States, the booming hemp industry has a rapidly growing need for these processing facilities,” explains professional serial entrepreneur Christopher Condon.
There’s a rise in demand for Cannabidiol (CBD), the most prominent medicinal compound in hemp. It’s non-intoxicating and has proven powerful therapeutic effects as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-seizure medicine. CBD is also beneficial in helping to treat other medical conditions and diagnoses including anxiety and depression, skin and psoriasis, as well as fatty liver and oncology.
North America only recently saw the first approval of a cannabis-derived drug by the FDA, for a CBD-based anti-epilepsy drug. This represented a major milestone in the cannabis-derived pharmaceutical industry. Meanwhile, dozens of companies currently have cannabinoid products undergoing clinical trials. CBD is already widely used as a novel food product and ingredient in the nutraceutical industry (i.e. foods containing health-giving additives that have medicinal benefit).
We know that naturally occurring CBD is safe and well-tolerated in both humans and animals as concluded by the World Health Organization’s published reports. In fact, it’s not associated with any negative public health effects whatsoever. It’s no surprise that these reports resulted in an explosion in demand for pharmaceutical grade CBD. However, we’re now faced with a serious shortage in supply of pharma grade product. Most of what’s on the market right now is low purity and doesn’t meet basic quality standards, so there’s enormous interest from buyers for CBD oils, extracts and isolate.
In order to meet these demands and standards, manufacturers need food grade or pharma grade GMP Cannabidiol. But, this is actually in scarce supply all over the world, not just here in the United States. Farmers are growing thousands of acres of hemp, but they’re unable to sell it and process it all themselves. So, the pharma industry is looking to work with them to help bridge the gap and scale the medical hemp industry.
Right now, the CBD industry is at a critical stage. The raw material supply is there but the quality assurance and distribution avenues aren’t. While there are many mainstream businesses that want to introduce CBD product lines, in the market’s current state, they can’t because the available product simply doesn’t meet basic consumer safety standards. Most existing hemp processors only run small systems and use toxic or explosive solvents to extract and purify CBD. They are cheaply made systems that have high operating costs. What’s more is that yields are unpredictable, ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds of hemp per day while posing safety risks. It’s for these reasons and so many more that new technology and manufacturing standards are needed before mainstream manufacturers can safely offer CBD products.
Despite all misconceptions, fears and misinformation surrounding the idea of medical marijuana, CBD may finally be the high value product that helps the hemp industry go mainstream as a profitable agricultural crop. From 2016 to 2017 alone, hemp productions in the United States grew 140%, and in just a few short years, the world CBD market is projected to reach $2 Billion by 2021. More than a dozen states now legally grow hemp, with recent legislation proposed to continue to legalize hemp as a commodity crop. All of this progress and more continues to boost investment in the sector and shine light on a product that can not only change an economy but change lives.