Will 2021 Be the Year of CBG?

cbg leaf

Cannabigerol is a rising star among cannabinoids, but so far the cost of extraction has kept it on the sidelines. However, new technologies and breeding practices may soon bring the cannabinoid into the limelight.

Two years ago, CBD was still the wunderkind, exploding on the health and wellness scene, with a few scientific studies and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence attesting to its potential. Research has continued to show CBD to be a pretty big deal, but the market is now so competitive that companies are already looking for the next big thing.

That next big thing could be cannabigerol (CBG). The cannabinoid isn’t a new discovery, but it’s been kept on the sidelines for a couple of reasons. First, it’s hard to extract in large quantities which has made it prohibitively expensive. Also, the science on CBG is scant, though early studies are promising.

Like CBD, there are studies showing that CBG has anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-bacterial properties. A few studies have shown it to exhibit anti-tumor properties on cancer cells. And it may be a novel treatment for glaucoma (by reducing interocular pressure). 

As of yet, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a scientist willing to make any definite pronouncements on the cannabinoid. If CBD science is in its early days, the studies on CBG are in their infancy. 

One thing we know for sure is that CBG, like CBD, is non-psychoactive. This is a big deal for cannabis science since the big drawback (from the perspective of scientists) of medicinal THC is the accompanying high. 

So with all this potential, why is CBG lagging in the cannabinoid market?

A big part of the answer to that question hinges on the biology of how cannabinoids develop in the cannabis plant.

With new, high-yield hemp strains beginning to pop up around the country, the market for CBG is about to take off.

CBG is known as the “mother molecule” because its acidic precursor (CBGA) is the cannabinoid from which all other cannabinoids develop. This means that the longer a plant is left to mature, the more CBGA is converted into different cannabinoids (like CBD and THC).

This has left farmers with the choice to either harvest their plants early to reap the most CBG possible or let the plant mature and extract the other cannabinoids. Cannabis plants that have fully matured generally often have only about 1% CBG by weight. 

However, we’re beginning to see new breeding techniques that are yielding much higher levels of CBG. American Hempseed’s team of agronomy engineers and biotechnologists have developed compliant high-yield hemp seeds that offer 12-15% CBG and 8-11% CBD. This is a game-changer when it comes to creating affordable products.

Other companies are racing to develop strains that will yield high levels of CBG (as well as other cannabinoids), while at least one company has landed on high CBG strains completely fortuitously.  

These stories are just the tip of the metaphorical CBG iceberg, but already, the markets are getting ready for the next cannabinoid-du-jour to start taking up more space on the shelves.

According to an article at Nasdaq.com, CBG stands to become a major disruptor in the pharmaceutical industry in the next decade, and the food and beverage industries won’t be far behind:

“With the CBD market becoming rapidly oversaturated, food and beverage brands are searching for the next big thing. As CBG becomes less expensive and more widely available, it’ll replace CBD as the marquee supplement to our favorite snacks and drinks.”

Another take on the potential for CBG comes from the Canna Law Blog, which points out one thing that CBG has over CBD (at least for now) – it hasn’t yet been used in a drug. 

That may sound like a weird thing to cite as an advantage, but the FDA currently holds the position that CBD isolate can’t be used in food because it is already being used as a drug in Epidiolex (a prescription medication for people with hard-to-treat epilepsy). 

According to the Canna Law Blog, this “drug exclusion rule” means that if “something is a non-exempt ‘drug’ it cannot be placed in the food stream under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act.”  

We still don’t know if the FDA will find a work-around for that position that would allow CBD edibles to continue to be sold – but CBG could be used in food without contravening any rules.

(Of course, if research shows CBG to be as helpful as the early studies suggest, it may not be very long before pharmaceutical companies are using it in FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.) 

Either way, it’s pretty safe to bet that by this time next year, we’ll be seeing a lot more CBG products on websites and store shelves. And as public interest grows, hopefully funding will become available for some large scale studies that can provide more solid information about CBG’s benefits as well.

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