In recent years there has been a big buzz building around novel cannabinoids. Initially THC and CBD were the only go to’s for human consumption, but the desire to explore and experience the unknown has led to consumers and health professionals alike seeking out other options. At Oregon CBD we’ve been digging into these outsiders for years, producing the first substantially pure CBG, CBDV, CBGV, CBC, and CBCV plants known to existence, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.
For 2021 we are particularly excited to be releasing Varin rich genetics (CBDV, CBGV, and CBCV) to farmers nationwide. While we do know these plants aren’t technically psychoactive, little else is scientifically known about their effects on the human body. Varin cannabinoids have shown to have medicinal and wellness properties – but up to this point, have been so rare that few have experienced them. It’s the new frontier in the cannabis industry.
I caught up with our lead research chemist at Oregon CBD, Matthew Otten, for some insight on what else is out there and what it takes to find it.
How many cannabinoids are currently known to exist?
As of 2019, there were almost 150. There are currently standards for 19. Whenever a new standard becomes available, I add it to the method.
How many can you test for at Oregon CBD?
Nineteen: 18 with one method, 1 with another due to co-elution of several compounds.
How many have you identified at Oregon CBD?
Oh, none. I don’t personally engage in novel research beyond method development and supporting our genomics research. My HPLC with diode array detector is useful, but a mass spectrometry detector is best for hunting for novel compounds.
What are the most common cannabinoids you encounter while testing?
CBD, CBDA, CBDV, CBDVA, CBG, CBGA, CBGVA, CBCA, d9-THC, THCA, CBT
Have you tested plants that had no cannabinoids?
Yes, stinging nettle, which I use for matrix spike testing.
Can you test for olfactory compounds?
Yes, I have a GC-FID with headspace.
How much of a sample do you need to make an accurate assessment of a plant’s cannabinoid content?
One leaf can give us an indication. Minimum sample weight for potency is 250 mg, less for ratio testing. Cannabinoid content and potency will change as a plant matures and flowers, so I might test the same plant at different times. I don't actually decide what we test or when, which helps keep the science nice and neutral.
During a busy week, how many samples do you analyze?
What are some of the biggest hurdles you and other laboratories face when identifying cannabinoids?
Instrument downtime. Plants have waxes and oils that accumulate on the guard column and the column itself, affecting system pressure and retention times. There are also several cannabinoids (CBDV and GBGVA, d8-THC and CBNA) that elute closely to each other. The cannabinoid is verified by retention time and spectrum.
What aspect of this cannabinoid exploration are you most excited about?It's pretty cool to see the future of hemp plant cannabinoid profiles years before they go to market!