CBG, or cannabigerol, is the great unknown of cannabis as it is a cannabinoid that normally appears in very small quantities. But today, thanks to the development of new CBG-rich genetics, cannabigerol can be obtained more effectively, thus opening the door to large-scale legal production and encouraging more research to evaluate its promising therapeutic properties.
CBG is the first cannabinoid to form in the cannabis plant. Therefore, it is regarded as the 'cannabis stem cell' since it is essential to the creation of THC and CBD, or cannabidiol, which are the most abundant cannabinoids found in cannabis. As the plant matures, the acidic form of CBG transforms into THC, CBD and other secondary cannabinoids through a biosynthetic process. As a result, CBG almost disappears.
According to several research studies on its medical value, CBG can fight pain and nausea, and exhibits great potential as an inhibitor of cancer cell growth.
Research has also proven that CBG showcases great anti-inflammatory properties; it can significantly reduce the intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma; and it can be beneficial in the treatment of other disorders such as Crohn's disease.
A difficult-to-extract cannabinoid
However, and despite its medical appeal, there is a great obstacle hindering CBG's popularization: its production is really costly, which has granted it the name of the 'Rolls Royce of cannabinoids'.
Even though CBG is slowly gaining force thanks to cannabis users (it is one of the most sought-after cannabinoids in extractions), CBG's price is 5 times higher than CBD's, and in some cases even higher. In addition, thousands of kilos of vegetable matter are needed to extract small quantities of isolated CBG, as most cannabis plants only contain tiny quantities. If the CBG content of a cannabis crop is only 1%, this means that it is necessary to extract 20 times the amount of biomass to obtain the same CBG concentration.
CBG extraction processes are still being developed and require highly-specialized equipment. Therefore the main factor to help lower CBG's price is the plant's genetics: the development of plants with a high-CBG genetic yield, where CBG is the dominant cannabinoid, would help apply more traditional and less costly purification processes.
This means that if we have cannabis strains with a higher CBG content, the extraction cost will be lower as less vegetable matter will be required for its production.
'Made in Spain' CBG
Hemp Trading, together with the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spanish acronym UPV), have been amongst the first to develop a CBG-rich cannabis strain free from psychoactive components. Not only did they manage to eliminate THC from it, but the CBG concentration was increased to levels of over 15% and up to 18% (the normal CBG level is usually between 0.1 and 0.5%).
The CBG extraction process requires less purification than the process for CBD extraction because CBG is extracted in isolation, meaning it is THC-free and also free from other cannabinoids. This makes it ideal for those interested in legal medical cannabis as well as for industrial applications.
Hemp Trading has now registered a new THC-free, high-CBG genetic called Panakeia. Its seeds and clones are to be produced and distributed by Tesoro Genetics, who specialize in CBD-rich strains, and Front Range Biosciences, a provider of technology for the production of new hemp varieties.
'Made in the USA' CBG
Thus, Panakeia's THC-free cannabis seeds have managed to break the 'hot hemp' legal barrier, which stipulates that any cannabis plants containing THC levels of over 0.3% are illegal at federal level and must therefore be destroyed.
The ability to never fail a THC test without the need for a THC purification process makes these strains really attractive for hemp farmers.
Another firm that is also at the forefront of the production of CBG-rich strains is Oregon CBD. This company has just announced that they will finally launch their first CBG-rich line in 2020 after three years of trials that have proven that they can produce flowers with over 20% CBG content, but keeping THC levels well below 0.3%.
Their first two strains are called Stem Cell and White CBG. Oregon CBD have used the latest technology, that was also used to create Panakeia, in order to analyse and map the cannabis genome for then using the data to improve the genetic through breeding and selection processes.
Hemptown USA is another corporation that is currently developing a cannabis plant with over 10% CBG content when in full maturity. With 200 hectares of CBG-dominant hemp in Jackson County, Hemptown USA states that in the last year they have produced around 40% of the total CBG in the United States. Another firm eager to modify CBG's genetic profile is EcoGen Laboratories: they have been working on CBG crops since 2017, with an analysis certificate currently showing that their CBG-rich strains hold up to 22% CBG levels.
As can be seen, the cannabis industry is excited about CBG, but we still have to see if this cannabinoid becomes as popular amongst users.
So far, CBG is not on most people's radar. The final pieces of this jigsaw are knowledge and demand. Without a presence on the market, users are unaware of CBG's attributes; and without CBG-aware consumers, it is tough to develop the presence of CBG on the market.