All Cannabis plants naturally produce a range of cannabinoids in varying quantities according the strain of plant. However, all cannabinoids within the plant are only produced as acid precursors (for example, THCa, CBDa, CBGa, CBCa, CBGVa, CBDVa etc).
Let me explain using CBD as our example, (although the information here also applies to other cannabinoid acid precursors).
The cannabis plant does not produce CBD in its raw form. It only produces CBDa (Cannabidiolic acid) which over a period of time after harvest will naturally change (oxidise or denature) to CBD.
We can speed up this process artificially by forcing the ‘decarboxylation’ of CBDa to CBD by using heat on the harvested plant material, typically in the region of 120-140 degrees C for 40 mins to an hour. However, using heat to force the decarboxylation process may not be the most desirable thing to do. At those temperatures, Terpenes and Flavonoids which have lower boiling points will be greatly evaporated off during the decarboxylation-by-heat process, and Terpenes and flavonoids have very important individual beneficial properties. The ideal means of facilitating the change from CBDa to CBD is simple…. Let the plant material dry over an extended period of time in a temperate environment and thus patience will be rewarded with a much-improved starting point to begin to make CBD oil.
But what of the difference to the consumer? A lot more research has been conducted on CBD with relatively limited preliminary pre-clinical research conducted on CBDa.
Having said that, some important research information is beginning to emerge.