Commercial Extraction and Manufacturing
The emergence of intensely flavorful and highly potent cannabis extracts has precipitated a widespread cultural shift towards non-combustion methods of consumption, like dabbing, vaping, topicals, and new types of edibles. Today, consumer demand for these next-generation extract products is rising rapidly in most mature cannabis markets, and in some cases, coming close to overtaking them in total market share.
Extractions are one of the most challenging and rewarding sectors of cannabis. They allow you to monetize crops that may otherwise have been non-viable and create the opportunity to turn prize-winning cannabis flower into a truly exceptional flavor experience. The downside is that cannabis extractions have a seemingly high barrier of entry. With the wide range of equipment available and the knowledge required to operate it — it is hard to even know where to begin.
In this course, we demystify the complex process of extracting the prized essences of the plant — cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — and how to transform them into profitable manufactured consumer products. This course explores the modern methods being used at a commercial scale and the market trends that are driving the evolution of the sector.
We begin by reviewing some of the foundations of cannabis, including the history of humans’ interaction with the plant and the policies which govern its production and use. We also review the efforts of the advocacy pioneers who came before us and fought for the right to access medical cannabis, and learn more about how we can continue that tradition in our personal and professional lives.
From there, we provide an overview of cannabis extraction — how the process works, the history of the practice, the most common methods in use today, and the types of products that can be manufactured from cannabis extracts. We also discuss how to select the extraction method that is best for the type of product you want to make.
Then, we highlight the defining characteristic of a scientific laboratory — control — and explore why this principle is so important to the safe and effective operation of a cannabis extraction lab. We look at the role of control in the scientific method, which can be used to design experiments that can help you improve the processes in your lab and the quality of your products.
We explore manufacturing concepts that can be applied in the extraction lab to help you achieve safe products that have a consistent effect, and do so in a cost-effective manner — standard operating procedures, traceability, supply chain management, and production strategies.
We dive into the day-to-day operation of a cannabis extraction lab, identify the roles and responsibilities of the extraction team, and learn how to properly maintain the tools and equipment you will use on a regular basis. We then explore strategies for sourcing the primary inputs you will need to produce your extracts — cannabis biomass and extraction solvents.
From there, we go into great detail about the three methods of solvent-based extraction — light hydocarbon, ethanol, and CO2. For each, we cover equipment set-up, post-processing techniques, and safety considerations. We walk through each method step-by-step, and discuss the pros and cons.
We finish with a discussion of solventless extractions. Unlike solvent-based extraction, which is a scientific endeavor that follows a controlled process, solventless extraction is more like an esoteric art form. We discuss the two solventless methods in common use at a commercial scale — ice water extraction and rosin pressing — and explore the types of products you can create with each.
Module 1 : Cannabis History & Policies
Cannabis has been used for practical, medicinal, spiritual, and social purposes for thousands of years; it was not until the 20th century that the plant developed a reputation as a dangerous and malignant substance that needed to be stamped out through total prohibition. This lesson will explore the history of cannabis and the major role it played in the shaping of the modern world, as well as the many misguided public policies that have arisen as a result of efforts to prohibit it. We will then examine the shift in public attitude toward the plant in the 1990’s as people began to rediscover its therapeutic potential, and how that shift ultimately culminated in the passage of the country’s first state medical cannabis law, California’s Proposition 215. The lesson will conclude with a brief discussion of the ongoing push toward medical and adult use legalization in the U.S. and around the world, and the role you can play as we write the next chapter of cannabis history.
Lessons in this module:
- Origins of Cannabis
- Early Prohibition
- Revolution Reaction: Nixon’s War On Drugs
- Medical Legalization: Shifting Attitudes & State Laws
- Post-215 Era: Adult Use & Beyond
This course is an overview of state and federal cannabis laws, public policies, rules, and regulations. The class will cover federal laws prohibiting cannabis and the risks of breaking those laws including mandatory minimum prison sentences, asset forfeiture, and collateral consequences. You will gain an understanding of the evolving federal enforcement priorities and tactics.
In addition to federal law, this class also introduces students to state laws governing cannabis. You will understand how states prohibit or allow medical and adult-use cannabis. It includes an overview of the legal framework for regulating personal use and commercial cannabis. Upon finishing this course, you will have a grasp of the range of state cannabis laws and the licensing framework for commercial cannabis.
Lessons in this module:
- Overview of U.S. Government & Legal System
- Federal “Marihuana” Laws and Policies
- Federal Risks & Penalties
- Federal Laws and the Business of Cannabis
- State & Local Cannabis Laws
Introduction to the foundations of cannabis extraction — how the process works, the history of the practice, the most common methods in use today, and the types of products that can be manufactured from cannabis extracts. Then, we will discuss how to select the extraction method that is best for the type of product you want to make.
- What Is Extraction?
- Traditional Extraction Methods
- Modern Extraction Methods
- Post-Extraction Processing
- Designing Your Lab Based on End Product Goals
Basic Laboratory Operations will highlight the defining characteristic of a scientific laboratory — control — and explore why this principle is so important to the safe and effective operation of a cannabis extraction lab. We will also look at the role of control in the scientific method, which can be used to design experiments that can help you improve the processes in your lab and the quality of your products.
- Controlling Hazards in the Lab
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Controlling the Lab Environment
- Measurement and Control: Operating a Balance
- Performing an Experiment in the Lab
In order to achieve success in a commercial cannabis extraction operation, you need to produce safe products that have a consistent effect, and do so in a cost-effective manner. In the fifth module, we will explore manufacturing concepts that can be applied in the extraction lab to help you achieve that goal — standard operating procedures, traceability, supply chain management, and production strategies.
- Standard Operating Procedures and Batch Records
- Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP)
- Supply Chain Management: Inputs, Outputs, and Production Costs
- Production Strategies: What Kind, How Many, and When
Dive into the day-to-day operation of a cannabis extraction lab. We will identify the roles and responsibilities of the extraction team, and learn how to properly maintain the tools and equipment you will use on a regular basis. We will then explore strategies for sourcing the primary inputs you will need to produce your extracts — cannabis biomass and extraction solvents.
- Meet the Team: Roles and Responsibilities
- Equipment & Tools in the Lab
- Equipment Preventative Maintenance
- Sourcing Biomass
- Sourcing Solvents
We will look at light hydrocarbon gas extraction, or LHG, a widely used process that can produce a high yield of very flavorful extract. We will walk through the LHG extraction process and identify the equipment used, and examine the wide range of products that can be produced through variations of the extraction method and the post-processing techniques employed.
- Light Hydrocarbon Gas (LHG) Safety
- LHG Extraction Systems
- LHG Extraction Process Flow
- Preparing Your Inputs: Biomass and Solvents
- Post Processing
- LHG Products and Pricing
Ethanol extraction, which has quickly become one of the leading commercial methods due in large part to its incredibly high throughput potential. We will walk through the ethanol extraction process, identify the equipment used, and discuss the extensive amount of post-extraction processing typically required to create a finished product.
- Ethanol Safety (Environmental and Personal)
- Ethanol as an Extraction Solvent
- Basic Ethanol Extraction Process & Systems
- Ethanol Extraction Process Flow
- Preparing Your Inputs: Biomass & Solvent Ratios
- Ethanol Crude Oil Post Processing
- Products and Pricing
CO2 extraction, a method which is very efficient at extracting highly valuable terpenes but which is also characterized by long run times and low throughput. We will walk through the CO2 extraction process, and explain how it produces a fractionated output which separates the terpenes from heavier compounds in the plant. We will also discuss the differences between supercritical and subcritical CO2 extraction, and the pros and cons of each.
- CO2 Safety (Environmental and Personal)
- Using CO2 as a Solvent
- CO2 System Components
- CO2 Extraction Process
- Extracting Terpenes
- CO2 Extract Post Processing
- Products and Pricing
Examine methods of solventless extraction. Unlike solvent-based extraction, which is a scientific endeavor that follows a controlled process, solventless extraction is more like an esoteric art form — you need to have a feel for the biomass and a well-practiced technique to create a high quality product. This module will walk through the two solventless methods in common use at a commercial scale — ice water extraction and rosin pressing — and explore the types of products you can create with each.
- The Difference of Microns
- Basics of Ice Water Hash
- Basics of Rosin Pressing
- Solventless Hash Star Rating
This course defines advocacy as a form of marketing, reviews the role of advocates and organizations in normalizing cannabis adult-use by achieving meaningful pro-cannabis policy reform, and then provides strategies and techniques for engaging effectively as an advocate. The course concludes with an exploration of the recent influx of influential investors in the cannabis industry and the surprising interest from former political opponents.
- The Importance of Advocacy
- Federal Drug Policy and the Supremacy Clause
- Value of Engagement and Effective Advocacy Strategy
- The Fight Against Legalization
- Looking Forward to the Future of Cannabis Advocacy