With the legalization of THC products on the rise and CBD exploding in popularity in markets ranging from food to health to beauty, industry professionals and consumers alike should be asking themselves one question: What cannabinoid will be the next household name?
Well, there’s not just one. Three of the 100-plus cannabinoids found in the plant have the potential to make waves in the cannabis industry over the next few years. These cannabinoids are CBG, CBC and CBN.
CBG: The Mother of All Cannabinoids
To better understand why these cannabinoids are poised to be the industry’s “big three,” it’s best to start by delving into cannabigerol (CBG), which has been called “the mother of all cannabinoids” because of its role as the plant’s stem cell. That means six weeks into the cannabis plant’s eight-week growing cycle, when the plant is exposed to heat or UV light, the cannabigerolic acid breaks down from enzymes in the plant and facilitates the production of either THC or CBD (depending on the plant’s genetics). CBG has enormous potential to be the next cannabinoid on everyone’s lips because it is the precursor from which all other cannabinoids are synthesized, including THC and CBD.
CBG, which like CBD is non-psychoactive, was actually first discovered in the early 1960s but it is only in recent years that researchers have been conducting studies revealing its potential physiological benefits, which include serving as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, colon cancer and glaucoma, as well as having anti-bacterial properties.
In addition, hemp-derived CBG will likely be a major force in the industry in the form of everything from smokables to tinctures because it is easier to ensure compliance than with hemp-derived CBD products. CBG-specific cultivars are less likely to exceed the USDA-mandated total THC limit (0.3% according to the new rules) due to the way cannabinoids are synthesized during the grow cycle. To note, many CBD-forward varieties of hemp — especially ones with more than 10-15% CBD — go over the 0.3% total THC limit, but this has been only loosely regulated up until now, with some state regulations only considering delta-9 THC. The new rules may put many CBD strains, products and brands overall in jeopardy – but create a larger opening for CBG forward products.
CBN: The Final Cannabinoid
While CBG is the first cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant, cannabinol (CBN) is at the other end of the spectrum. It is part of the natural progression of the plant and, in a sense, what the plant aspires to reach.
CBN can be produced within aged cannabis or by leaving cannabis extracts unrefrigerated or in the light — environmental factors that oxidize the THC and CBD. Research has found that its potential benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, anti-bacterial properties, appetite stimulant and can be used as a light sedative. In terms of CBN products, current options on the market include oral sprays, capsules, infused teas and tinctures. Expect more product innovation this year and beyond.
CBC: Further into the Future
CBG products are becoming more readily available in 2020 and will continue this trajectory, but for a broader forecast, cannabichromene (CBC) will likely become more common by 2021 or 2022. It’s also non-psychoactive, but the key to unlocking the full potential of CBC is exploring how it binds with the body’s various cannabinoid receptors and synergistically works with other cannabinoids. More work needs to be done to reveal all that CBC may be capable of, but recent studies have found it to be useful as a treatment for acne, depression and chronic pain.
THC and CBD will continue to be mainstays, but the evolution of the cannabis industry shows promise with more researchers and entrepreneurs working with CBG, CBN and CBC. While each are unique in their own ways, they all have the potential to offer enormous benefits.
Nicholas S. Warrender is the CEO of Lifted Made, a company he founded in 2015. He also serves as vice chairman and chief operating officer of its publicly traded parent company, Acquired Sales Corp. In less than five years, Warrender grew the company from a one-man operation out of his parents’ house to a fully staffed, nationally recognized company with a 3,500-square-foot facility in Illinois producing a wide array of progressive cannabis products.