What is De-Carboxylation?

De-Carboxylation is a chemical reaction which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) as a result of what’s called Carboxyl group removal. The carboxyl group removal actually removes Carbon atoms from the molecule itself.

What is De-Carboxylation in Cannabis products?

Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD like other Cannabinoids exist in the Cannabis plant in their acidic forms – THCa, CBDa, etc and non-acidic forms – THC, CBD, etc.
The Cannabinoids’ acidic form might be different in its therapeutic effects but still has a positive therapeutic effect which may differ from the therapeutic effects of the non-acidic forms. For example, THCa in comparison to THC has no psycho-active characteristics.

The De-Carboxylation process is performed spontaneously at a low rate but can be achieved by high temperature or light. Cannabis products are heated by the patient (smoking, vaping) and therefore, the De-carboxylation process is unnecessary, as it is achieved as part of the consumption technique.

For other Cannabis products which are not heated as part of consumption, such as oils, capsules, edibles, and cosmetics, the De-Carboxylation process may be considered a part of the specific therapeutic purpose in order to choose the required THC, THCa, CBD, CBDa concentrations. In a case where the non-acidic form of the Cannabinoids is the desired one, the manufacturing process will include the heating stage in order to complete the De-Carboxylation process properly.

De-Carboxylation process and yield in Cannabis products

Decarboxylation is a chemical process in which Carboxyl is removed and as a result, CO2 is formed in a gaseous state and released, in most cases to the outer environment. The non-acidic molecule now has a smaller molecular weight as the CO2 was released, and there is a loss in the molecular weight of the non-acidic molecule and weight loss of ~12%. This means that the weight of the product that contains the Cannabinoids in their non-acidic form will be less than the acidic form.

Yield calculations are required as part of the GMP standard, in order to justify all weight loss and yield. Therefore the Decarboxylation process should be documented and calculated as part of process yield calculations accordingly. In several product types, it is recommended to calculate the total concentration of the Cannabinoids as part of Medical Products release analysis.

For example, the total THC will be calculated as follows:

  • tTHC = 0.877*[THCA] + [THC]
  • tCBD = 0.877*[CBDA] + [CBD]

The factor of 0.877 was determined based on theoretical calculations of the weight loss as a result of the Decarboxylation process. This factor exists in scientific literature as well as in the US Pharmacopeia.

About Cannabis GxP consultancy

Cannabis GXP is proud to stand at the forefront of the Cannabis industry in Israel and worldwide thanks to many years of experience in these areas.

Our team is compelled to spread the message of the importance of cannabis science, regulation and standardization as the world enters a new era of cannabis legislation.

We aim to position our clients with their best foot forward when it comes to anything and everything cannabis related.

Our vast expertise allows us to assist companies in a wide range of services and needs: Anything from Cannabis R&D, growing and manufacturing, new products development, facility design, technology, Quality Assurance, Good Practices (GAP/GMP/GLP/GDP/GCP), staff training, local and global regulations.

Cannabis GxP is a subsidiary company of Bio-Chem Ltd. (2007), a consultancy firm for the Pharmaceutical field, medical devices, Cosmetics and food supplements industry based in Israel.

Our cannabis consultancy services include:

  • Product development, delivery system & clinical trials
  • Growing, Manufacturing and Lab Facilities Design
  • Quality Assurance and Good Practices (GxP)
  • Cultivation & Product Manufacturing Technology
  • New product Regulations and Submissions
  • Qualification & Validation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Staff training

If you need one or several of our services, we will be more than happy to assist.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.