What is a Cannabinoid?
Written By: Eric Singular
Cannabis contains an array of unique chemicals, known as cannabinoids. The most prolific of these is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that legally distinguishes marijuana from industrial hemp. The other prominent cannabinoid, the one you’ve likely kept hearing about since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, is cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
Besides these two, there are at least 144 more cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, as well as cannabis-specific terpenes, which are oils that give plants distinctive aromas. Scientists and researchers are continuing to discover more of these novel cannabis compounds and develop their unlocked potential.
Where do cannabinoids come from?
Cannabinoids can either be derived from the flowers and leaves of a cannabis plant – these are known as phytocannabinoids – or derived synthetically, which is typical for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis formulations, like the FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex.
There are three methods for deriving cannabinoids that depend on the extraction method. There is Full Spectrum oil or crude oil that is extracted using a solvent like butane, ethanol, or carbon dioxide. There is Broad Spectrum oil which is further refined using distillation to target the removal of THC. And there is isolate, where all other compounds are removed through a refining process leaving only a specific isolated cannabinoid, typically in powder form.
Phytocannabinoids can be added to thousands of products. Over the last six years, we’ve seen CBD emerge as one of the most popular new ingredients in the U.S.