In my last article on the Cannabis Extract Industry (CEI) I discussed various methods of extracting cannabis oil from the plant. In this article I will talk about how we process extracts to create cannabis beverages. I’m going to be focusing on Tinley Beverage Company, which produces cannabis/hemp drinks, and Isodiol, who produce a product that can easily be turned into a hemp drink (I imagine they will expand to cannabis).
I must note that I will not be giving any opinions on how these companies operate financially, thus I avoid inadvertently making recommendations. I’m only comparing the science behind the products I will talk about. The area of cannabis beverages is interesting due to the inherent difficulty of dissolving cannabinoids in water. If you try and blend dry cannabis in water, it doesn’t work very well, the water won’t get you high. This creates a unique market. The consumer can’t recreate a company’s cannabis drink themselves, unlike the edibles market. Their only option is to purchase the cannabis drink from a supplier. Tinley produces a range of cannabis/hemp based beverages all based on the same proprietary technology. They take the cannabis extract and use a technique that produces stable oil-like bubbles called micelle in water. The circles in the picture are the part of the structure interacting with water, the yellow lines are the oil part of the structure that holds all the cannabinoids and terpenes. The yellow lines are connected to the circles, creating a stable sphere of protection to transport the drugs to your blood stream via the small intestine, as I talked about here.
Isodiol produces a powdered cannabinoid hemp extract that you dissolve in water and drink. Anyone can add the hemp powder to any drink, but they must add terpenes separately if they want the full cannabinoid/terpene blend. A different company can make their own powder or buy the powder from Isodiol in bulk and sell the produced premixed drink. The cannabinoids from these products are not protected by a fatty coat in the stomach, I’m not sure of the rate of degradation.
Companies are focused on bioavailability before we’ve determined if the doses we currently give to patients are insufficiently bioavailable. Do cannabinoids really need to be made more bioavailable? What are the ideal therapeutic levels? So many questions to be asked before we can claim there’s a problem, so few answers to be found on the topic.
I believe Tinley and Isodiol are the only publicly traded companies currently in this niche, I’m sure we will see more in the future. Margins are better on processed products than the raw plant, especially those the consumer can’t make the products themselves. Other methods of dissolving cannabinoids in water exist, here’s a very brief rundown of them:
First is using pharmaceutically safe soap (saponin) commonly used in pharmaceutical drugs, it’s bitter so they use cane sugar to sweeten it. Second in Tincture, which is an alcohol extraction of shredded plants, it’s a concentrated alcohol solution heavily diluted in another liquid. Third is in a lot of sugar, and no ones using that. Fourth is glycerol, some companies making it claim it’s ‘proprietary’ but there’s no filed patent on it I can find.
The first, second and fourth techniques are being used to make these beverages by private companies.
Also have to point out that Tinley’s patented technology is not owned by them and they do not have exclusive rights to it. The patent is mentioned in articles written by others without these details.