The Year 2023: A Peek into the Future of Extraction of Cannabis and Hemp
The future technology for extraction is not going to resemble anything from the past decade any more than today’s passenger jets look like a horse and buggy. Consider how dramatically the mode of travel from Boston to San Francisco, for example, changed from 1818 to 1919. And the advances from 1919 to 2019 are even more dramatic. Today, transportation is faster, more efficient and safer. If we looked at communication tools in the same manner the evolution in technology would be equally as dramatic.
Like most new technologies and cottage industries, cannabis extraction methods got started with small batch production on a local level using tools you might find in a kitchen or a home-made laboratory in the basement. However, the extraction industry has grown exponentially in the past 10 years and new extraction technologies were required to satisfy the supply and demand.
Let’s go back to our transportation metaphor and look at the Model T automobile as an example. Once Henry Ford began assembling the autos in mass on a production line, the automobile transportation industry took off. The new production technology changed everything, making an affordable mode of transportation available to everyone. As a result, competitive manufacturers appeared, infrastructure and roads needed to be built, spare parts had to be ordered and stocked, and repair shops and technicians were in high demand. The rest, as they say, is history.
Much the same is in store for the cannabis extraction industry. One cannabis research and development company predicts that only 20 – 25% of cannabis will be sold in the form of dried and cured raw product and extracts will comprise the remainder of the market. Today, extraction facilities are scaling up to process tons of materials per day. To keep up with future demand as more states come on line, that capability may need to expand 10-fold in the next 10 years. Will the future of the cannabis extraction industry lie in the hands of the technology producers, and what will the technologies be?
Will solvent-based extraction methods using ethanol or CO2 be capable of scaling up and handling the load? Or will new hyphenated technologies like microwave assisted, ultrasonic assisted, mixtures of solvents, or more automated inline modes of dewaxing or additional tools aiding in concentrating the full spectrum of compounds from the cannabis and hemp plants come into play. On the growers side, technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are being tested to improve crops and optimize yield.
If you are attending the Concentration 2019 Extraction Conference in Pala, CA, May 30-31, I invite you to sit in on my talk, The Year 2023: A Peek into the Future of Extraction of Cannabis and Hemp. I will briefly explore the history of extraction to establish a common ground of definitions and technology. The majority of the time will be spent on the newest technologies that are being used around the world. Selectivity, scalability, safety, simplicity, speed, and spend will be used to compare and contrast the different extraction technologies and processes.