Full Spectrum Marijuana Extracts

Updated: Feb 10

Missouri's marijuana-based businesses must be savvy and skilled enough to meet the demands of an ever-changing regulatory landscape. All while satisfying a customer base that was simultaneously demanding great products (rightly so) and at times a little unsure of what they wanted and what was possible.

What does full-spectrum mean?

At first, both the industry and the consumers were strangers in a strange land. But, it’s been an exciting process growing up together these last several years. Missouri and much of the country has been uniquely blessed with the climate that helps patients find effective treatments. Others have more options for relaxing, socializing, celebrating, and feeling good, safe in the knowledge that their marijuana is well-made and legal.

There are always newbies, though. They might be new to the state, new to the idea that marijuana is a promising avenue for better health, or even new to the concept that weed can be a great way to relax and feel good. Those who are just discovering the best ways to include weed in their life have so many more options than “classic” weed lovers used to.

But a lot of options can also bring a lot of confusion. So that’s why we like to educate all our readers.

A Complete Profile

The term full-spectrum extract (or full-spectrum cannabis) means that the marijuana products contain all of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids – THC, CBD, CBG, CNG, CBC, terpenes, and flavonoids, as well as proteins, phenols, sterols, and esters. Full-spectrum extracts are also known as whole plant extracts.

Most concentrates on the market right now are full spectrum.

“Broad-spectrum” is another term you may see frequently. This is similar to full-spectrum but missing the psychoactive component, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Broad-spectrum products will help you feel better but won’t get you high.

CBD (cannabidiol) extracts are usually labeled as broad-spectrum, with a THC content below .3%. If you want to avoid the intoxicating effects of marijuana, look for CBD products.

Isolates are pure versions of a single cannabinoid, often found in powder form. Because they contain only one cannabinoid, they are the opposite of full-spectrum extracts.

Full-spectrum products are more flavorful and present a more complete marijuana experience because of the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect is when all the cannabinoids present in the marijuana work together to provide an orchestra of sensations with the full range of benefits.

It’s common knowledge among marijuana appreciators that THC and CBD work well together. Full-spectrum extracts can expand on that principle by bringing in more cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid has different benefits. The whole marijuana plant offers much more than just the isolated THC or CBD.

How Are Full Spectrum Products Made?

Let’s face it -- full-spectrum extracts are hard to produce. When you want to keep the good parts of the marijuana plant and get rid of what’s not necessary, it can be a tricky process. Sometimes extraction techniques will filter out essential components, such as terpenes and flavonoids.

The state of the marijuana plant can determine the flavor profile of what’s extracted. Whether the plant is fresh or dried, how old it is, the environmental conditions in which it was cultivated – all impact the quality of the product.

Learning more about how full-spectrum extracts are made can help you appreciate the effort made to preserve the products' efficacy and understand the full potential inherent in the marijuana plant.

  • Supercritical CO2

One standard method of extraction uses CO2 to make full-spectrum concentrates. Supercritical CO2 has the viscosity of a gas and the density of a liquid. Therefore, it can extract all the cannabinoids from the pores of the marijuana plant. This process ensures that no solvents remain after the filtration process, but CO2 extraction pulls out waste wax and lipids along with the cannabinoids.

That means the next step will involve removing those waste components while simultaneously keeping the best parts – the cannabinoids. Next, a cold solvent like ethanol is mixed with the oil to separate the waste wax and lipids. This part of the process is called winterization.

  • Hydrocarbon extraction (the most popular method)

With the hydrocarbon extraction process, the marijuana plants are packed into a tube. Propane, butane, or a combination of both are run through the tube, then cold hydrocarbon dissolves the cannabinoids. This method retains almost none of the waste products. Winterization with a cold solvent is the next step.

High-quality extracts such as live resin, shatter and wax remain. Each of these end products requires a different finish to this process. For shatter, the oil is baked at a very low temperature for a day or two. When the oil is whipped on a heated surface, wax is produced.

Wax is made by the hydrocarbon extraction method.

Solvent-less extraction

Rosin is a solid resin created with heat and pressure through a pure process that doesn’t involve using any solvents. To make the rosin, the dry marijuana flower (AKA kief) is pressed between heated plates. The oil from the plants is liquified. The pressure brings rosin out of the plant. This process is more costly than CO2 or hydrocarbon extraction and produces a smaller yield than the other methods.

Kief is needed to make rosin.

Fully Realized

Missouri's budding (get it? lol) marijuana industry is dedicated to finding the best processes to create marijuana products that are safe, effective, and legal. Making full-spectrum extracts available is one way to keep their customers happy.

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