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What is CBG? 

As the regulations around CBD remain in flux, another cannabinoid is getting more attention

Legal cannabis has been heralded as the "next big thing" over the past decade or so—but inside this changing industry, the "next big thing" among "next big things" is CBG. It's just one of over 100 molecules found in cannabis, but found in very small amounts in most cannabis strains.

Like CBD, CBG is showing promise among researchers for its potential medical benefits.

Hemptown USA operates a farm in Eagle Point, Oregon, where it grew 500 acres of CBG plants last year. - COURTESY HEMPTOWN USA
  • Courtesy Hemptown USA
  • Hemptown USA operates a farm in Eagle Point, Oregon, where it grew 500 acres of CBG plants last year.

Researchers say CBG shows promise as an anti-bacterial agent, in treating glaucoma and inflammatory bowel disease, in fighting cancer and in battling Huntington's disease, as a 2017 article in Leafly reports. "Because it is non-psychotropic, CBG has a promising wide range of potential applications not only for the problems mentioned above, but also as an analgesic, therapy for psoriasis, and as an antidepressant," the cannabis-focused website states.

And perhaps the most promising part for some producers: CBG isn't hemmed in by the federal regulations and restrictions currently present for CBD.

As Vince Sliwoski, a professor of Cannabis Law and Policy at Portland's Lewis & Clark Law School explained in a January article on the Canna Law Blog, "It is illegal to add CBD to many products, in FDA's [Food and Drug Administration] view, due to the 'drug exclusion rule.' According to FDA, products containing CBD cannot be sold as dietary supplements because CBD was investigated and approved by FDA as a new drug (Epidiolex). If something is a non-exempt 'drug' it cannot be placed in the food stream under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act."

Since CBG hasn't yet been made into a drug, it doesn't fall under the same rule, Sliwoski explained—hence one of the reasons some producers are looking at it as an alternative to CBD. That cannabinoid shows medical promise too, but is plagued by regulatory issues.

While Central Oregon's producers are largely focused on CBD, some Oregon producers have jumped on the CBG train in a big way. As reported in the Portland Business Journal in December, Hemptown USA, based in Jackson County, Oregon, produced 500 acres of CBG-dominant plants last year—accounting for about 40% of all the CBG crops grown in the U.S., according to the company.

Growing a plant to extract its CBG isn't easy. While the science gets a bit complicated, think of CBG as a "precursor"' to other cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. Basically, CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, gets broken down and becomes cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. That's why it's commonly known as the "mother of cannabinoids." However, getting the CBG out can require either breeding a CBG-dominant strain, and/or harvesting mass amounts of any strain of cannabis just to extract the CBG.

"It takes thousands of pounds of biomass to create small amounts of CBG isolate," James Rowland, CEO of Colorado-based CBG-goods producer Steve's Goods told Forbes in September.

For that, and other reasons, some believe isolating one portion of the cannabis plant to achieve health effects isn't always the ideal. When I asked Stacie Johnson, co-owner of Blazin' Trails tours in Bend, for her take, she said, "Full spectrum cannabis products are still what health professionals agree is the most effective for whole body health and homeostasis."

While it's still relatively new on the scene and comes with a host of opinions, it's more than fair to say CBG is the "next big topic of discussion" in cannabis.

Hemptown USA operates a farm in Eagle Point, Oregon, where it grew 500 acres of CBG plants last year.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.
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