Sourcing Cannabis Material

August 8, 2017

–by Scott Sondles

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At Apeks Supercritical, our owner, Andy Joseph first started building CO2 extraction systems to meet the growing demand from the essential oil market. Think lavender, frankincense and rosemary extracts. However, as soon as they legalized medical cannabis out west cannabis, entrepreneurs replaced rosemary with mary jane and begin shoving every part of the plant into our machines. This included stalk, roots, trimming and eventually flowers.

Technically, you can extract any type of plant material and any portion of the cannabis plant, but that doesn’t mean you should. Your profit margin and return on investment will largely dictate what plant material you extract in your CO2 extraction system.

Trim was the go-to product for extractors due to its low cost and moderate cannabinoid content, but eventually people realized the return on investment just wasn’t there when extracting twigs and the stalk. Science will tell you that cannabinoids and terpenes are present in this material, but it is at such small percentage that it makes more sense to run material that has a higher cannabinoid percentage.

As the market for CO2 extracts has matured we have also seen an increase in the demand for whole flower CO2 extracts. Extraction runs that utilize flower should be run using subcritical parameters during the bulk of the extraction to preserve the full plant profile.

Below is a breakdown of your startup material. Please understand that how you or your suppliers store your plant material will have a major effect on the quality and yield of your oil.

  • Trim: (4-6% THC)
    • $100 – $200 per pound
    • Raw CO2 extract contains around 50% THC
  • Flower: (15-25% THC)
    • Northern California has seen prices drop to as low as $1,000 per pound while current averages are hovering around $1,500.
    • Average THC concentrations are in the high teens, but expert growers are hitting the high 20s.
  • Stalk / Stems (1.2% THC)
    • According to MCR Labs, HPLC-UV analysis on three stem samples the THC concentrations are all over the map. Sample 1 had 1.2% THC, sample 2 contained 1.1% THC, and the third sample contained 9.2% THC.
    • Just like flowers and trim, it looks like stems have varying THC concentrations. These varying levels seem to depend on how many cannabinoids fell off the initial flower material and stuck to the stem.
  • Roots:
    • Contain negligible THC content in roots, but like many herbal roots they do have some medicinal properties of their own

If you have any questions regarding other areas of the CO2 extraction supply chain please contact us.