With the emergence of the Cannabis Acids as potential therapeutic superstars, our sloppy use of terminology in the cannabis industry is even more glaring, and while things have improved in recent years due to legalization and legislation requirement, we have a long way to go.
At the heart of this is that we now must have a clear distinction between CBD-a and CBD (and similarly for other cannabinoid pairs; ie THC-a and THC). One might argue that this isn’t particularly important in the recreational cannabis market, and that may be fair, as it the net THC that matters to the consumer; however, this is going to be an ever shrinking fraction of the cannabis marketplace.
Yes, the cannabis acids are going to be important, and that means we need to clean up the story about what cannabinoids are made by the cannabis plant and how the various cannabinoids we are interested in are subsequently formed. So here are some key points:
- All the cannabinoids that the plant ‘makes’ are in the acid form.
- CBG-a (Cannabigerolic acid) is the ‘mother’ or ‘parent’ cannabinoid from which the others are derived.
- CBD-a (Cannabidiolic acid) is made from CBG-a (Cannabigerolic acid) by an enzyme in the cannabis plant.
- THC-a (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is made from CBG-a (Cannabigerolic acid) by an enzyme in the cannabis plant.
- CBG (Cannabigerol) is made from CBG-a (Cannabigerolic acid). This is decarboxylation and it is caused by heat.
- CBD (Cannabidiol) is made from CBD-a (Cannabidiolic acid). This is decarboxylation and it is caused by heat.
- The THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) that gets people high, is formed by heating the THC-a (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) in the cannabis plant when we smoke or vape it.
The reality is that a lot of the on-line information about cannabinoids is ambiguous. This is in large part because most of what has been written in the past has not been intended to educate the reader. Regulations are a significant contributor to this, but ignorance, carelessness, and sometimes deceit are also factors.