EDITOR’S NOTE: On March 10, NJ Cannabis Insider hosts its first semi-annual, daylong industry conference, featuring leaders in the medical marijuana, hemp and legal cannabis industries. Early-bird tickets are now available.
Those watching the weed world have likely heard of CBD and THC by now.
But there’s a new compound to watch out for in the alphabet soup: CBG.
That’s short for cannabigerol, a cannabis compound that’s legal when it comes from hemp, marijuana’s mild cousin, but hard to find over the counter in New Jersey.
Anecdotally, some say CBG is a better anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety treatment than CBD or marijuana, and that it’s less likely to make a user groggy or paranoid. Some claim it’s particularly useful for treating glaucoma, and may even play a role in slowing the growth of cancerous cells.
As many states, New Jersey included, await weed legalization, both customers and companies are taking advantage of legal cannabis products. Chief among those, the CBD market could be raking in as much as $16 billion by 2025, analysts have estimated. But as the market grows, questions remain.
And with more than 100 identified, unexplored cannabinoids, it’s not clear why CBG is the latest to step into the spotlight.
“We just don’t know a lot,” said Dr. Matthew Mintz, a Bethesda, Maryland-based primary care physician who specializes in medical marijuana. “It’s one of these cannabinoids that has some potential to be particularly useful. It’s just way too early, way too soon to tell.”
CBG’s more-known relative, CBD, or cannabidiol, is found in hemp and marijuana. When derived from hemp, marijuana’s legal, mild cousin, it will not make a user feel high. It’s sold widely as a holistic treatment for inflammation and anxiety, although evidence to support those claims remains largely anecdotal. THC, the most famous cannabinoid, is the one found in significant quantities in marijuana, and produces a high.
CBG can be found in small amounts in each plant.
Isolating CBG, some animal studies show, may have increased medical benefits — if only researchers can start digging deeper. Years of cannabis prohibition have built up testing roadblocks that have given little scientific proof of CBD’s supposed benefits, also those have also blocked research into CBG.
Right now, Dr. Mintz said, he would not recommend it to patients, due to a lack of research. He does, however, recommend full-spectrum CBD products, which contain other cannabinoids like CBG, rather than the isolated compound.
Ethan Russo, the director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, said formal clinical trials on CBD remain lacking.
“The current roadblocks to cannabis research are formidable in the USA, and will certainly make it difficult to initiate proper studies here, in spite of the fact that CBG seems to have no drug abuse liability,” Russo previously told NJ Cannabis Insider.
For now, it’s difficult to track down outside of Europe and the West Coast, he said. An online search for CBG calls up far fewer results than CBD, but capsules are available.
Forging ahead, some growers are experimenting with genetic manipulation and crossbreeding of plants to boost CBG, and others in New Jersey are paying attention. At medical marijuana Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus, most of the products have less than 1% CBG, but some strains have closer to 2%, said Adam Johnstone, the director of cultivation.
There’s too little information on the compound for Harmony to begin isolating it, but Johnstone said there are strains with a good amount of the potent compound left behind from the metabolized process that allows the plant to produce THC or CBD.
For patients interested in getting a bit more CBG now, it’s important to take a close look at the compounds present in certain strains.
“We encourage consumers to research the full spectrum of cannabinoids that are available from this plant to experience a more holistic approach to healing,” Johnstone said.
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