There Is So Much Cool Science Happening In The Marijuana Industry These Days

With the forthcoming legalization of marijuana in Colorado, entrepreneurs and researchers finally have the opportunity to do more with cannabis than has been achieved before.

While typically people think of marijuana groweries and marijuana dispensaries as the prototypical images of marijuana legalization and availability — the ability to purchase and smoke flowers — there are still two major elements of the marijuana production cycle that form a crucial element of the forthcoming marijuana economy.

Not only are companies developing ways to consume cannabis besides smoke inhalation, but also laboratories are forming an essential element of the production cycle by ascertaining the exact quality of what’s going for sale.

Take, for instance, Dixie Elixirs and CannLabs, two unique firms building the scientific niche in Colorado’s market.

Dixie Elixirs is setting itself to be the Pepsi of marijuana. They’re a marijuana-infused products company, with a wide-ranging array of cannabis products ranging from soft drinks to chocolate to mints to ointments. Meanwhile, CannLabs is poised to dominate the cannabis quality testing market in the post-legalization Colorado.

Let’s take a look at what makes them so special.

Their products are ubiquitous throughout the Denver marijuana markets, and with good reason. These firms are going to be huge.

The center of Dixie Elixirs is not unlike the center of any other food processing facility: It’s a kitchen.

But in a back room is the real prize. The active ingredients in marijuana are the cannabinoid oils, and this machine — designed by a former U.S. Navy nuclear submarine technician and sold by his company Apeks Supercritical — isolates those oils with a CO2 extraction process.

The cannabinoid acids are then infused into anything from their iconic soft drinks to truffles.

The marijuana they use to get these oils would otherwise be waste from a marijuana growery — the cannabis by-products that, while still containing the oils that convey a “high,” are not smokable or able to be sold to customers as flowers.

But once a marijuana infused products business like Dixie Elixirs makes these products, they need to be sure that they know exactly what they’re selling. That’s where a business like CannLabs comes in.

Owned by Genifer Murray — one of the prominent women involved in the marijuana industry — CannLabs is a full-fledged marijuana testing lab.

CannLabs Marijuana Testing Lab Denver Cannabis Gennifer MurrayWalter Hickey / BIGenifer Murray

CannLabs analyses both marijuana infused products as well as other products like hash concentrates.

For example, they’ll use this high-performance liquid chromatograph — the sort of precision analysis device you’d find standard in any sort of sophisticated chemistry lab — to analyse a solution they made of, say, a marijuana-infused beverage to find out the concentration of the cannabinoids.

The read-out would look something like this. See the spikes? They identify different cannabinoids in the sample. THC-A, for instance, is the cannabinoid that, when heated or smoked, becomes THC, the stuff that would get you high. The cannabinoid CBD-A, on the other hand, has seen outstanding uses in the treatment of epileptic seizures in children.

The facility also tests hash from other producers for adulterants. Hash is a cannabis concentrate that is processed, from marijuana flowers to a highly concentrated solution that experienced smokers often prefer. Here’s a diluted analysis sample that CannLabs will run through their gas chromatograph.

The thing is, the extraction process involves some pretty tough chemicals, and it’s up to CannLabs to ensure that the hash is safe. Look here, and you’ll see that there’s definitely something funky with this sample — spikes of butane and acetone levels and other adulterants. Something went wrong at some producer during the process to produce this hash, and thanks to CannLabs, this batch won’t be going to the shop.

But CannLabs is actually going deeper still with their new Ultra-precision liquid chromatograph, which will allow them to go even deeper in their analysis of the contents of products that will hit the market. They’ll be able to identify even more isolated cannabinoids, a crucial step to ascertaining any sort of value these new oils may have for medical or recreational reasons.

As a result of this extensive testing, the marijuana infused products for sale in Colorado are among both the most sophisticated — where else can you buy what is essentially marijuana vitamin water — but also the most rigorously tested.

Under the new laws, all or most marijuana products for sale in Colorado — including the flowers — will have to under some quality testing. As a result, Murray is very well positioned in the forthcoming market.

It’s these ancillary businesses — in addition to the long time growers and dispensaries — that are really revolutionizing the way that marijuana is handled in America.

Special thanks to Dan Williams at Canna Security America for his help with this story.

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