CBD or cannabidiol’s explosive rise to popularity has changed the cannabis industry for good, paving the way for hundreds of other therapeutic compounds found in the cannabis plant.
One of these highly expensive and exclusive compounds is CBG or cannabigerol.
First discovered in the 1960s, CBG is the “mother cannabinoid” — the starting point of all other cannabis derivatives.
In a hemp plant’s early stages of growth, it only contains CBG. With age, CBG is converted into other products, including THC and CBD. Because of this, scientists suggest CBG may have similar therapeutic benefits to CBD and other mainstream cannabinoid compounds.
Like all cannabinoids, CBG taps into the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid system is a vast system of cell receptors prevalent throughout the human body. CB1 and CB2 are two of the most important receptors of the endocannabinoid system that regulate vital physiological functions, from inflammation to mood and sleep to appetite.
CBG interacts with these receptors to produce their desired effects. Although CBG’s association with the endocannabinoid system is still largely murky, early findings paint a promising picture.
Studies show CBD has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Furthermore, CBG is non-psychoactive, making it safe and legal for use. According to the US National Library of Medicine, CBD stimulates anandamide’s activity — the bliss molecule responsible for regulating mood.
Some research also suggests CBG has neuroprotective abilities, making it a viable medication for severe neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington disease and Parkinson.
Besides this, CBD has shown increasing promise to fight cancer. The Journal for Natural Products demonstrated found CBD to have powerful antibacterial and analgesic properties, potent enough to ward off the effects of grave MRSA complications.
Despite this, CBG research and production has stalled due to one major impediment: economic costs. CBG has gotten a reputation for being called “the Rolls Royce of Cannabinoids” because of its hefty price tag.
Why Is CBG So Expensive?
The main problem is yield: To produce one pound of cannabis, you need a truckload of cannabis. The safest source for extracting CBG is hemp, and while hemp is an excellent source for CBD, it contains only trace amounts of Cannabigerol.
There are also extraction issues. Cultivars have to extract CBG at the very early stages of the plant’s growth; otherwise, it transforms into other products. Most of the time, the compound is extracted at harvest, by which time only small quantities of it remain bioavailable.
Another obstacle is genetics. Due to THC’s and CBD’s soaring demands, breeders have modified plant varieties to provide for these two products exclusively. Therefore, the content of CBG and other cannabinoids is minimal in these.
But, interest in breeding for CBG is speculated to rise as the compound gathers traction. But, until this happens, the price of CBG is unlikely to stabilize. In the end, there’s just enough demand for the compound at the moment.
After the Farm Bill 2018, which greenlit several cannabis products for commercial use, more companies are speculated to increase hemp production.
However, even here, there’s a big issue: equipment.
CBG requires heavy-duty and expensive equipment for its extraction. Fortunately, there are other affordable extraction means, which may provide an alternative solution and bring down costs.
For now, genetics remains the main element driving costs.
If farmers breed CBG-dense hemp strains, the cost of producing cannabigerol will drop. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to focus on developing plant varieties with higher CBG yields. Targeting CBG genetics to make CBG the dominant product in the plant, manufacturers will be able to cut costs and produce the compound much more inexpensively.
Some farmers are already doing this, and the initial results have been promising, with CBG concentrations in some plants increasing from two to ten percent. Some companies who harvest CBG early, before most of it is lost, have also increased CBG stocks and decreased production expenses. Harvesting plants in the early stages of the plant’s growth gives greater access to CBG; however, it may reduce THC and CBD availability.
Quality control is another consideration. Most CBD products on the market may contain harmful impurities. This is because of inefficient extraction technologies, which use solvents that make their way into the final product and pose problems.
Consumers want products free from additives, and removing solvents is expensive, which ultimately raises costs. Furthermore, customers also want vendors to publish third-party lab results of their products to ensure they don’t contain dangerous contaminants — another factor that adds to the price.
Future of CBG
Prices of CBG products may reduce in the future, but this isn’t likely to happen in the imminent future. Advancements in technology are one ray of hope. Many companies are streamlining their production protocols by investing in more efficient equipment and analytical technologies, such as chromatography.
Some have already stepped into the stage of using chromatography equipment to produce full-spectrum CBG products. This has allowed them to improve yields and reduce costs. Others are investing in specialized refining and isolation technologies to lower the “mechanic” costs associated with CBG production. Despite all these efforts, CBG has a long way to go before its market value reaches a sane equilibrium.
Consumer education is also in its infancy, which has stalled economic and scientific progress. Some people are still clueless about the difference between cannabis products. The majority are still wrapping their heads around THC and CBD. And adding another compound to this already confusing list may only exacerbate confusion.
Bottom line: Until cannabis literacy reaches a respectable level, CBG prices may not stabilize.
Education is vital. The scientific community is playing its role to illuminate the facts surrounding CBG. As the medicinal value of this potentially therapeutic cannabinoid is more established, consumer interest will rise with time. This will harmonize the economic costs surrounding CBG production and extraction and give farmers and companies at large more of a reason to find innovative ways of producing cannabigerol inexpensively.
CBG has been shown to help with various conditions and symptoms, such as glaucoma, pain, and bladder malfunction, and it’s only a matter of time before it stands toe to toe with other mainstream cannabinoids — THC and CBD.