Before bringing her scientific skills to the cannabis industry, Amber Wise, Ph.D., spent eight years as a chemistry professor and researcher. Cannabis had already been on her radar for a while when she moved over to the industry and began to apply her scientific skills, knowledge, and leadership.
Today, as Science Director for Medicine Creek Analytics, she is working with cannabis, hemp, and CBD entrepreneurs to raise the scientific credibility and safety of their products.
Unfortunately, Wise sees many operators making the same costly mistakes in their extraction and manufacturing processes. Some of these clients are interested in bettering their processes with science, some are not.
“One big issue or challenge is that a lot of owners and managers think that they can just ignore the data and put flower in at one end and get ‘Gold Fire’ out the other end, without actually tracking efficiencies, the yields, or which strains and what growers work well for them and their process,” Wise reveals.
When cannabis extraction operations do not track their data or utilize the proper analytics, it will bite them every time. “It may seem like you’re cutting costs in the beginning and yet it’s really not that much to ask,” Wise says.
“If you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on input material and your output material is worth more than that, then why aren’t you spending a small percentage of your operating costs on testing? It’s kind of silly, and I see that a lot.”
It’s a great point. If operators are not utilizing the proper analytics before, during, and after their extraction processes – how do they know what they’re working with?
Many Cannabis and CBD Operators are Missing the Mark on Quality and Efficiency
Because many operators don't realize the benefits of tracking data and how important that is to managing a proper facility, by the time these same operators bring products to Wise’s lab, her team has to do a lot of handholding, above and beyond what you’d expect from a lab. This is especially true for CBD companies, she reveals.
“We are expanding into the CBD market a lot. We have a lot of out-of-state companies sending us CBD tinctures. They are actually quite a different client because there are no regulations for CBD, so they want the ‘compliance testing panel’, but there is no such thing, and with high-CBD products that are supposedly full-spectrum, you have to do some special chemistry to be able to quantify the CBD and also the really tiny amounts of other cannabinoids,” Wise notes.
Wise does what she can to get these clients up to speed on some of the important analytical nuances. However, with CBD operations in particular, her lab runs into some other challenges as well.
“Very few of these CBD companies have had to jump through the hoops of getting a license, which often requires you to be a little bit more organized, and a little bit more paperwork savvy,” Wise reveals.
“A lot of these CBD companies are run out of people’s basements or apartments, and they’re flying by the seat of their pants. So they’re a different client, and we’re trying to figure out how to serve them effectively and teach them a little bit about the science as well as regular cannabis i502 processors.”
Bad Extraction Research Could Ruin Your Business
One of the biggest misconceptions Wise continues to encounter in the cannabis industry is the thinking that you can learn extracts by spending a few hours in an online forum.
“That is definitely not the case. There is so much misinformation and bad science that gets disseminated and repeated – even in well-respected forums – and it is just flat out wrong from a scientific point of view,” Wise explains. “Having actual, fact-based, science-based training programs is critical to ensuring that the industry is doing things correctly and safely for both the workers and consumers.”
This desire to see industry players do things the right way is a big part of why Wise has joined a team of hand-picked extraction experts for Green Flower’s newest online training course: The Cannabis Extraction Certificate Program.
“Even at the university level, you can’t really find these types of programs for cannabis. You could focus on botanical extracts with chemical engineering, for example, but that doesn’t cover the skills that you might need at a cannabis extraction facility,” Wise says.
This is exactly why she emphasizes the importance of cannabis experience combined with scientific knowledge, especially as these operators begin to scale things up.
“Naturally, labs or extraction facilities want experience in their workers, but it’s really hard to get the experience when the only opportunity is on the job at this point, so having these kinds of training programs is critical to expanding the knowledge.”
Expanding Extraction Skills for Industry Success
For anybody considering a career in cannabis extraction, Wise warns that it’s not a get-rich-quick job, nor is it an easy one.
“If you get into this industry and you want to do things the right way, it’s hard work. It’s not a bunch of lazy stoners – or it shouldn’t be – if you have a legitimate business. It’s a lot of professionals who get up early and work hard and have really high standards,” Wise notes.
“There’s plenty of places in society where you can go and half-ass stuff, and we want to make sure that as the cannabis industry grows and people make it more legitimate and more well-respected that we do things the right way because we’re under a big microscope for sure.”
Avoid costly mistakes in extraction! Learn more about the Green Flower Cannabis Extraction Certificate Program today.