Chemical Profiling of Medical Cannabis Extracts

April 3, 2020


Chemical Profiling of Medical Cannabis Extracts


Melissa M. Lewis, Yi Yang, Ewa Wasilewski, Hance A. Clarke, and Lakshmi P. Kotra




ACS Omega


Medical cannabis has been legally available for
patients in a number of countries. Licensed producers produce
a variety of cannabis strains with different concentrations of
phytocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids in medical cannabis are
decarboxylated when subjected to heating for consumption by
the patients or when extracted for preparing cannabis
derivative products. There is little understanding of the true
chemical composition of cannabis extracts, changes occurring
during heating of the extracts, and their relevance to
pharmacological effects. We investigated the extract from a popular commercial strain of medical cannabis, prior to and after
decarboxylation, to understand the chemical profiles. A total of up to 62 compounds could be identified simultaneously in the
extract derived from commercial cannabis, including up to 23 phytocannabinoids. Upon heating, several chemical changes take
place, including the loss of carboxylic group from the acidic phytocannabinoids. This investigation attempts to reveal the
chemical complexity of commercial medical cannabis extracts and the differences in the chemical composition of the native
extract and the one subjected to heat. Comprehensive chemical analyses of medical cannabis extracts are needed for
standardization, consistency, and, more importantly, an informed employment of this substance for therapeutic purposes.




cannabis, cannabinoid, phytocannabinoid