When Jeffrey Raber, PhD, first pivoted his science career toward cannabis in 2010, it was for one reason: to help get quality medicine products to as many patients as possible.
That same year, he founded The Werc Shop, a lab dedicated to botanical analysis. The more Raber learned about cannabis, the more opportunity he saw to put his scientific brain to work. The challenges came fast – and with increasing complexity.
“One of the first things that was interesting was how can you find the right cultivar or flower for the right people, and how can you map the right cannabis composition to what each person wants?” Raber says.
“And I didn’t know that the naming was all messed up. I didn’t know it was going to be so complex and so difficult to start to put some credibility to that, and really start to figure it out.”
Since that time, Raber has been a big part in bringing scientific credibility to cannabis as well as to the operators and manufacturers working to build a business around it.
With cannabis products becoming more popular and innovative, the scientific side of successful extraction and manufacturing has become all the more complex.
“When you consider all the different derivations and different forms and how they have different physiological profiles because of metabolic pathways and absorption rates, it just gets more complex,” Raber explains. “More molecules, more molecules together, more ways of ingesting them, more ways of interacting.”
Scientists like Raber certainly enjoy that complexity, but it also makes it much harder to find the right thing for the right people, he says.
With cannabis extraction, Raber explains, there is a huge point of potential variability and control, which a lot of product manufacturers struggle with when they skip out on proper training, research, and analysis.
“If I grew the exact plants the exact same every time, I have to extract them exactly the same every time to create a standardized product in the end,” Raber notes. “Now if I don’t grow the same plants or I’m using variable plants, can I pull out from each of those things what I would like to harness and then put it back together in a standardized and consistent fashion?”
Extraction, Raber continues, is this key piece in the middle, between farm and patient. “It’s a piece that you really need to control and understand at a very detailed, molecular level so that you can make medicine and make it well.”
The challenge of getting the proper extraction processes in place is further compounded by economic, financial, and regulatory pressures as well as the catastrophic dangers of doing it wrong.
“Extraction is this really unique area of exceptional engineering and chemical complexity that when done well and when done right can lead to consistent, low-cost medicines, but when done wrong can be catastrophic in a number of ways from contaminated products to hurting the operators to really unstandardized materials,” says Raber.
“You can’t really build a brand on variability. Whether you want to be a medical brand or an adult/recreational brand, you need product consistency.”
This is especially true when making products for medical patients, Raber advises. “If you give them something that works today but it doesn’t work with the next batch that they get, that’s one of the cruelest things you could do to them. When they come back saying it’s not the same thing, you completely tarnish the reputation of the brand, and that’s definitely not what everyone’s trying to build today.”
Raber is one of several experts featured in Green Flower’s new online Cannabis Extraction Certificate Program. For him, lending his expertise to the new training program is an important opportunity.
“I’m extremely happy to be a part of it because I know how exceptionally critical that point in the supply chain is – and making sure that it’s done well, done right, and fully understood is incredibly important to everybody,” Raber says of the new extraction training program.
“Everybody deserves the best products without contamination no matter what they’re looking to use. And medical patients certainly deserve that when you call it medicine.”
At one small point in time, Raber continues, there were so many variables that most people making these cannabis products just didn’t know better. “But now we know better, and if you’re not acting better than shame on you. That’s what needs to be fixed.”
“It’s up to everyone who operates to go educate themselves and understand it – and learn how to do it the right way, not just by some people who didn’t have any data or experience to really support what they’re doing.”
And it’s not just extractors who could benefit from this type of training, Raber adds. It’s helpful when product sales people or brand managers understand what potential strengths or pitfalls might be present with each of the extraction methods and what products they may want to select or educate their market about.”
Knowing the science, the engineering, and the financial modeling, Raber advises, is the only way to go into cannabis manufacturing with eyes wide open.
Learn more about the Green Flower Cannabis Extraction Certificate Program today.