The fake cannabinoids are coming. And, like the artificial meat popping up on fast-food menus and grocery shelves across the country, they could disrupt multiple industries.
As CBD has become more popular, a growing number of companies are scaling up efforts to produce lesser-known cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN. Although the compounds can come from the plant itself, some biotech firms are finding it’s cheaper to engineer them synthetically.
Now, the race is on to improve production and bring down costs as demand grows for cannabis-derived treatments for sleep, pain relief, relaxation and more. That could open new opportunities for consumer goods and pharmaceuticals.
While CBD has gotten all the attention lately — with help from big names like Martha Stewart, who recently launched gummies, and Molson Coors Beverage, which has a partnership for CBD drinks — more than 100 other compounds can be extracted. As consumers familiarize themselves with the alphabet soup of options, one increasingly popular one is cannabigerol, or CBG, which is used to treat pain and nausea — and, like CBD, doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of THC.
Willow Biosciences said last month that it’s working with manufacturer Albany Molecular Research to achieve large-scale production of CBG by the middle of next year. Willow, based in Calgary, Alberta, sold out of its first batch of the compound, and about 17 more companies have said they want to buy the next samples when they become available, said Chief Executive Officer Trevor Peters.
“What we see from food and beverage,