Ask Our Experts: Producing Synthetic Cannabinoids


Q: What are the primary challenges facing synthetic cannabinoid production?


By William Sumner, Hemp Content Manager, New Frontier Data

A: Interest is growing among consumers and companies regarding synthetic cannabinoid production. Though some lament the idea of producing cannabinoids in a lab (as opposed to extracting them from plants like hemp), the truth is that little difference exists between a cannabinoid produced in a lab or that grown in a field. However, while the final product between synthetic and organic cannabinoids may be inconsequential, associated costs between the two vary wildly.

As discussed by Dr. Jonathan Vaught, CEO/cofounder of Front Range Biosciences, during New Frontier Data’s recent webinar – Hemp Webinar Series: The Future of Minor Cannabinoids Beyond CBD – it is both extremely expensive and difficult to product synthetic cannabinoids.

“It’s a tough thing to do,” says Vaught. “People have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in developing synthetic biology systems to produce different compounds. Cannabinoids and terpenes are inherently toxic to most of the microbes that you use.”

Vaught expects scientists to eventually figure out a cost-effective means to produce synthetic cannabinoids, though he likewise believes that whole-plant cannabinoid extraction will remain relevant.