Thailand has relaxed its laws to legalize hemp extracts with less than 0.2% THC. The move was made to pave the way for a new cannabis market, allowing the people of Thailand to access cannabis for its medicinal properties. The Thai government also hopes that the cannabis market will create new economic opportunities and open the door for medical research.
The new Thai hemp market certainly offers a wealth of opportunities, but as with any new cannabis market, there are challenges that entrepreneurs need to navigate in order to stay on the right side of the law and maximize profits.
According to the Thai health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, the majority of the hemp and cannabis plant is no longer classified as a narcotic for medical purposes. But extracts from the plant must remain below 0.2% THC. THC is the intoxicating component in marijuana, but CBD does not share its intoxicating effects. Thailand’s law aims to provide people access to products made with non-intoxicating CBD or medical-use THC while still restricting extracts and personal use.
The Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally removed cannabis extracts containing less than 0.2% THC by weight from its list of banned narcotics. That means that to sell a cannabis product in Thailand legally, THC must make up less than 0.2% of its total weight. Anything containing more than the 0.2% limit will still be considered a Category 5 narcotic and treated according to the country’s current law.
Interestingly, the approved cannabis strains in Thailand all contain relatively high concentrations of THC. When extracts are made from those plants, the concentration of THC only grows, averaging around 15+%. This problem leaves cannabis processors with a few options and one clear-cut winner.
There is no way to extract CBD alone from cannabis biomass selectively. Any extract from the plant will contain the same ratio of CBD to THC as the plant itself. To complicate matters even more, the THC cannot be separated from CBD using either wiped film or short path distillation.
Even CBD isolates are not immune from the problem. The crystallization process only concentrates THC further. Generally, it’ll be found in the mother liquor at twice its original concentration. In order to remove the mother liquor containing THC, large quantities of wash solvent may be needed. Even still, it’s possible for THC to become trapped in the CBD crystals or inhibit the crystallization process altogether.
If you try to hit the legal limit of 0.2% by diluting the extract, you will also significantly dilute the CBD, rendering it ineffective. For example, if you have a 75% CBD extract containing 5% THC, the CBD would be taken down to 3% in order to hit the 0.2% THC target.
Chromatography doesn’t offer an efficient solution either. Removing THC from the extract would be impossible without incurring substantial CBD losses. Plus, to get the mixture below the 0.2% threshold, the process would need to be performed in small batches or repeated several times. Each has obvious downsides.
THC remediation is the best solution. With a proper THC remediation system, cannabis processors can specifically target THC and remove it from an extract with a comparatively low impact on CBD concentrations.
The ENTEXS RMD-T Series of THC remediation systems are fully-automated and provide real-time monitoring of cannabinoid levels. They can be calibrated to the US limit of 0.3% THC, the Thai limit of 0.2% THC, or even undetectable levels of the cannabinoid. The RMD-T Series is engineered for efficiency, and they can remediate THC to any desired level with minimal CBD loss.
A proper THC remediation system, like the ENTEXS RMD-T line, can even remediate mother liquor. Mother liquor is the leftover concentrate of cannabinoids after CBD isolates are crystallized. The mixture is very low in CBD, but it contains surprisingly high concentrations of rarer cannabinoids like CBG and CBC. These other cannabinoids are not intoxicating, like THC, and they aren’t regulated, meaning they have value for cannabis manufacturers, especially those looking to take advantage of the entourage effect in their products.
Mother liquor can actually open up additional revenue streams for cannabis processors. It’s a valuable product containing some of the least common cannabinoids. With the option of remediating mother liquor, producers of full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, distillation, and further crystallization products certainly have a use for those cannabinoids and the potential benefits they bring with them. For a new market like Thailand, mother liquor that’s undergone the THC remediation process could prove an invaluable addition to a product portfolio. The ENTEXS RMD-T Series has remediated mother liquor as high as 35%.