Tag: oil

What’s the Future of Ethanol Extraction?

This article is sponsored by Capna Fabrications. Capna Fabrications is an industry-leading extraction equipment manufacturer and research facility based in southern California whose mission is to research and develop safe, innovative ethanol extraction technologies for the cannabis industry.


Ethanol is a tried and true solvent that’s been used for centuries to craft tinctures, essential oils, and similar substances. In modern times, this lab-grade alcohol is still among the most commonly deployed solvents, used in products from food flavorings to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil. That latter use is no accident, said Gene Galyuk, chief development officer at Capna Fabrications.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

“Rick Simpson designed his method around ethanol because he knew that the residual solvent in his medicinal oil would not adversely affect the consumer,” Galyuk said. “He also knew that ethanol was very aggressive at extracting all of the essential constituents in cannabis.”

Today, though the solvent remains the same, new technologies and processes are helping to unlock its true potential.

Ethanol Catches Up

While ethanol is a time-tested solvent, the industry standard today is to use butane or CO2 to create extracts like oil for vape cartridges. But next-generation tools are making food-grade alcohol an increasingly attractive extraction option by turning what has been seen as a weakness of ethanol into a strength.

In recent years, some have viewed ethanol’s structure as a strike against its potential as a solvent. Ethanol molecules have polar and nonpolar ends, making them able to bond with different kinds of molecules on either side. That means that while ethanol draws cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plants, it also brings other players along for the ride.

“There are aldahydes, esthers, ethyls, ketones, and a range of other chemicals that make up the full spectrum of beneficial compounds in cannabis,” said Capna’s principal chemist Erwin Sibal. “Because of the dual role ethanol plays as a solvent, it is capable of extracting the whole of the plant better than any hydrocarbon or CO2.”

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

The downside of a whole-plant oil? It can often look like the whole plant is in there. Ethanol extractions have long had a reputation as being murkier than some of their counterparts crafted by other means, a side effect of molecules like chlorophyll that were extracted along with the cannabinoids.

The Next Generation

New ethanol extraction technologies, though, are placing this traditional solvent in the same sphere as popular extractors like butane and CO2. A system like the Ethos 4 by Capna Labs can draw 98.5% of the THC from a batch of cannabis, while also leaving the extract fully dewaxed and devoid of chlorophyll. The result is a rich golden hue unlike previous ethanol extracts that still maintains the essential oils and flavonoids found in cannabis flower.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Operating at cryo temperatures (that’s really, really, really cold), the Ethos system works by spraying cannabis with 200-proof ethanol at freezing temperatures. After several re-circulations over the material, negative pressure transfers the resulting solution to a collection chamber where additional impurities are removed by micron filtration.

This super-cold, low-pressure means of extraction allows users to skip time-consuming processes like dewaxing and winterization and makes it possible to process up to 48 pounds of plant material in just one eight-hour shift. It’s not just fast, though—the closed loop of ethanol extraction makes it a safe bet as well.

“Fire marshals love the design of the Ethos,” said Galyuk, “It prevents any solvent or flammable vapor from ever exiting the system or venting into the extraction room where the system operates.”

Ready for Prime Time

Galyuk and his team were initially using a carbon dioxide-based system to craft cannabis extracts. After a few months, though, they got tired of using ethanol to dewax the resulting product. If they were going to have to keep ethanol on-hand anyway, why not try to develop a process that improved on the ways that solvent had been used previously?

Capna’s first few months of working to develop a new ethanol-based extraction system were marked by just enough successes to make the failures all the more frustrating. “For a very long time, we could not replicate our results,” said Galyuk. “Sometimes we would get a solution that was pristine yellow, and other times we would get a solution that was green and obviously contaminated with chlorophyll.”

After about six months of research and development, Capna’s ethanol extractors were fine-tuned and producing a uniform amber extract on every run, letting them focus on automating the process to minimize the potential for human error. Further improvements lowered ethanol consumption, improved system cooling, and minimized the number of electrical components operating near solvents. Years later, the “proof of concept” system for the Ethos extraction technique is still running strong at Capna’s southern California production facility.

(Courtesy of Capna Fabrication)

Once the system was working at full bore, it was intended for internal use only—Ethos-type systems have been the force behind Capna’s extracts. Now, the same technology is being made available to other producers

“Going to market was a hard decision to make, as it was never our intent for these machines,” said Capna Fabrications CEO Vitaly Mekk. “But we know we have something unique, and it makes us very proud to be at the forefront of an industry that, in our opinion, could benefit from our technology.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

LA Proposals Would Ban Most Dabs, Create Cannabis Bank

With adult-use cannabis sales set to kick off in California on Jan. 1, local governments like those in the city of Los Angeles are in a mad rush to get the regulatory kinks worked out.

The latest proposal out of LA City Hall, introduced by Council President Herb Wesson, would outlaw “volatile cannabis manufacturing,” which is currently the predominant form of extracting cannabis into concentrates used for dabbing or making edibles.

Cannabis industry experts told the LA Weekly the proposed ban would rob the city of tax dollars and push a lucrative component of the cannabis industry outside LA city boundaries.

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Most concerns around using volatile chemicals for cannabis extraction stem from amateur manufacturers using improper techniques, which can result in flammable gases flooding the extraction space. If sparked, the gas can then ignite and explode.

Amateur cannabis extraction using volatile chemicals is already illegal under state law. The LA measure would ban the practice even by qualified manufacturers.

David Sparer, CEO of Bay Area-based Refined Hydrocarbon Solutions, which makes solvents for cannabis extraction, told the Weekly that licensed cannabis-oil producers are on a different level of safety when it comes to producing the oils.

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“It’s perfectly safe when there’s a trained operator using high-quality materials,” said Sparer, who added that the company has been in discussions with city officials about what constitutes safe use. “If the City Council doesn’t allow this to happen in a highly regulated environment, the good players will go to outlying cities and the tax revenue will go with them. And it will still be sold in LA. Those bad players left will continue to blow things up.”

Some analysts have projected that concentrates will make up around 60% of the legal cannabis market in Southern California.

A Local Cannabis Bank?

In more promising news for the industry, Council President Wesson has also proposed setting up a municipal bank to enable businesses in the cannabis industry to open accounts and secure loans.

Limited access to banking services have hamstrung operators and caused headaches at local agencies that often must collect millions of dollars in taxes and fees—in cash. And as the LA Daily News points out, while LA accepts business tax payments in cash, the State Board of Equalization does not.

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Cannabis business owners, Wesson wrote in his proposal, “are going to go home tonight and sleep on a mattress that’s worth $2 million” while others “have a million and a half dollars in cash buried in the backyard.”

John Bartholomew, Humboldt County’s treasurer and tax collector, said that wasn’t a figure of speech. “We get lots of cash, and sometimes it has been washed—actually washed—because it had been buried out in the backyard,” he told the LA Times.

“We have to figure out a way to make this industry work,” Wesson wrote.

Wesson is expected to introduce a formal motion for his municipal bank proposal to the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Georgia Set to Expand Access to Cannabis Oil

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers have reached an agreement to expand a program that lets some patients use an oil derived from marijuana.

Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, will present the compromise to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Friday morning, and it is expected to get a positive recommendation.

Under the new proposal, six new diagnoses will be added to the list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis oil including autism, AIDS, Tourette’s syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, anyone in a hospice program, regardless of diagnosis, will be allowed access to marijuana oil that’s low on THC, the chemical responsible for the marijuana high.

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The proposal will set up reciprocity with other states so that visitors will be able to access medical cannabis oil for 45 days as long as they are permitted to do so in their home state. It also removes a requirement that patients live in the state for at least a year before qualifying for the program.

“It’s not all that I wanted, but you never get everything you want at the Capitol.”

Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon

Both the reciprocity and the removal of the residency restrictions were included to try and cater to military families who may end up stationed in Georgia.

Under the proposal, prescribing physicians will only have to report to the state twice a year instead of the current quarterly requirement.

In a previous version of the bill, Watson proposed reducing the allowable percentage of THC from 5 percent to 3 percent, which drew sharp criticism from patient advocacy groups.

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“It’s not all that I wanted, but you never get everything you want at the Capitol,” said Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon. He sponsored a separate bill that would have expanded the program further with additional diagnoses and fewer restrictions.

He said he was happy with the final product. “We needed to pass something that will benefit more Georgians, and that is exactly what we are doing,” said Peake.

But advocacy groups say the compromise doesn’t go far enough.

Shannon Cloud is with Georgia’s Hope, a group of patients and parents advocating for more access to medical cannabis. She would have preferred to see the Senate adopt Peake’s initial proposal.

She disagrees with the qualifier that for some diagnoses, a patient must be in a severe or end-stage condition.

“You shouldn’t have to be dying in order to access the medicine,” said Cloud.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

The Only Dutch Pharmacy That Sells Its Own Cannabis Oil

The Transvaal pharmacy in The Hague, the seat of Dutch government, is the only place in the Netherlands where patients can buy whole plant cannabis oil of guaranteed quality. Pharmacist Armin Ramcharan distills the oil from three different varieties of cannabis grown by Bedrocan, a medical cannabis producer. Patients from as far afield as Italy travel to The Hague to buy it.

Hash oil is considered a hard drug under Dutch law, in the same category as heroin or cocaine. This is why Bedrocan, the country’s only legal medical cannabis grower, cannot produce oil. The company’s license is limited to cultivating cannabis flower.

As in most European countries, all sorts of cannabis oil are available via internet in the Netherlands. Most of it is CBD oil produced by extracting the non-psychoactive cannabinoid from industrial hemp. Even the national chain De Tuinen has been selling CBD oil in its 127 stores. Whole plant oil, which contains THC, in general is produced illegally by an unknown number of small producers.

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Pharmacies offer an alternative. By law they’re allowed to produce any kind of medicine whatsoever, provided it’s for patients who don’t respond well to available medications. The Transvaal pharmacy in The Hague has been making its own morphine infusion bags for years, explains Armin Ramcharan, who runs the cannabis oil project.

“These are sterile preparations that we need to make in a sterile environment. We’re very good at it and give lectures about it,” Ramcharan said. That strong reputation caught regulators’ eyes. “At one of these talks about palliative medication, the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis had a talk about cannabis use in the palliative phase. That’s the stage where someone only has a very short time to live and is in a lot of pain. When they heard what we can do here, they asked us to develop a cannabis oil for children with epilepsy.”

“These are all patients who are not really treatable with regular medication.”

Armin Ramcharan, Transvaal pharmacy

The request marked the beginning of a lengthy quest to find the best way to produce oil and a reliable way to test it. Ramcharan spent a full year on getting things right, cooperating with the universities of Leiden and Groningen. The pharmacy didn’t get any funding, he said. “We do it ourselves, mostly because we like it,” Ramcharan said. “There’s a bit of passion and then it’s no problem. We like to develop new things, find out how we can make the product really well and help patients with it. That’s our vision.”

The oil is made with extremely pure ethanol and heated in an oven to turn the cannabinoid acids into active cannabinoids. Peanut oil is used to dilute the extract and to soften the bitter taste. At the moment, the oil is almost exclusively prescribed to patients who do not respond to regular medication. “It’s the last resort, that’s how you should see it,” said Ramcharan. “It’s not a first-choice drug. Not yet, because there’s not enough evidence yet. GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain has started clinical trials. I’m quite happy they did, because this research, these results are very important. Because they simply show: you cannot avoid this, it has really been proven in research. It’s not a myth.”

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In order to do clinical research, both the product and the analysis must be good, Ramcharan stressed. “You need to know exactly what is in it. A lot of people sell oil now, but nobody really knows what’s in it. The origin of the plant is very important, too; the plant material must continuously have the same quality. Only then can it be registered, and that’s the hard part. That’s very difficult for cannabis.”

What’s missing is what’s called a monograph, a thorough study of a single topic that contains standard rules and limits. “Once a monograph is established in the European directives, things become much easier,” explained Ramcharan. “But preparing one takes a lot of research and time. If it’s in place, you can make oil and then analyze it on the basis of the monograph. That’s how it works with all medicines.”

Ramcharan has never used cannabis himself and said he was quite skeptical at first. “But I was thrilled when we received the first results,” he said, estimating that 60 percent to 70 percent of patients respond well to the oil. He has just submitted an article to the Dutch Pharmaceutical Weekly about the results seen in 27 epilepsy patients. “Fifty percent of them responded, and if they responded, there was a 50 percent seizure reduction. That’s a lot. And these are all patients who are not really treatable with regular medication. So that’s very special.”

A new research project will start this month. Ramcharan will buy samples of all the different cannabis oils he can find and analyze them in the Transvaal pharmacy lab and at least one other independent lab. “We want to find out what’s happening in the market, and we will present the results to the Office of Medicinal Cannabis. I am very curious about the results.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.