You’ve probably heard about full-spectrum and broad-spectrum cannabis, but could you identify either in the form of question if you chose “Cannabis for $600, Alex?” In the event you make it to Jeopardy one day, remember this post. Today, we’re talking all about full-spectrum cannabis extracts.
Full vs Broad-Spectrum Cannabis
First, keep in mind that the extraction process itself strips out all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds. It’s what happens next that determines whether an extract becomes full spectrum or broad spectrum, which is also an indication of the level of processing.
Full-spectrum extracts are also called whole plant extracts, which is a pretty literal label. These kinds of extracts aren’t isolates — they maintain the full profile of the individual cannabis plant. That means there’s a mix of cannabinoids, including THC, THCa, CBD, CBDa, CBG, and others, plus terpenes, phytochemcials, and other compounds. Broad-spectrum extracts, on the other hand, have CBD and all the other plant compounds with the exception of THC, which is removed completely.
As you might imagine, there are advantages to full-spectrum extracts. First, they’re a far more honest and accurate representation of the plant’s unique flavor and aroma profile, if that kind of thing appeals to you. And while you can get the benefit of the entourage effect with both kinds of extract, you are missing a key component with broad-spectrum extracts — the THC. If you recall, the entourage effect is the belief that different parts of the plant work together to enhance and elevate one another and boost the effects and benefits of the plant.
But it’s not necessarily easy to manufacture full-spectrum extracts. The goal is getting rid of unnecessary plant matter while preserving as many desirable compounds as possible. When you’re dealing with delicate compounds like terpenes, that’s easier said than done. Fortunately, cultivators, like yours truly, have dialed into extraction processes that do the trick.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction
KYND got its start using supercritical CO2 extraction, a process in which temperature and pressure change C02 from a gas into something closer to a liquid. It maintains gas-like viscosity, but it’s able to penetrate porous solids the way a liquid can. This liquid-like CO2 can push compounds out of the plant matter in a very controlled, precise manner, to ensure specific, desirable components are being extracted. Plus, there’s minimal, and often no, post-processing required, which makes for a cleaner, more pure product.
Another method for producing full-spectrum extracts including hydrocarbon extraction, which uses butane and requires additional solvents.
Finding the Good Stuff
Because legal cannabis is a state-by-state thing, regulations vary wildly, and there’s little oversight clarifying what actually makes a product full-spectrum. That means there are a lot of mislabeled products floating around out there. Like all things cannabis, it’s important to take responsibility for understanding what you’re consuming. And that means reading the lab report. Asking a budtender to steer you in the right direction is a good place to start.