We recently took a trip to Plant Science Laboratories to learn about hemp processing. Plant Science Laboratories is a local dietary supplement manufacturer for the Food and Nutrition industry, and they specialize in the dehydration and milling of nutritional raw materials. They are the largest manufacturer of cranberry supplements in the United States and the largest hemp processing facility in New York.
The facility sources hemp from local farmers and utilizes a carbon dioxide extraction process to isolate the oils from the plant. CO2 extraction is much more desirable than alternative extraction methods. Other methods involve harsh solvents such as butane or ethanol, and often time’s trace amounts of these chemicals can be found in the products utilizing these methods. CO2 extraction is safe, clean, controllable, and can be specifically adjusted to select for certain cannabinoids.
The process starts by heating and pressurizing CO2, creating what’s known as a “supercritical fluid.” The supercritical CO2 is then run through raw hemp material, dissolving the chemicals inside of the plant. After the extraction is complete, the CO2 is removed by readjusting the pressure and temperature to atmospheric conditions so it returns to a gaseous state and dissipates into the air. The result is a high-quality extract that is free from toxic solvents. The extracted material is collected in containers and moved to a separate room for decarboxylation. Decarboxylation involves heating the cannabinoids so that an extra chemical link is broken and compounds like THC and CBD are activated. Without this step, CBD remains in its inactive form, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and is not readily absorbed by the body.
After decarboxylation, the extract is moved to the in-house laboratory, where it is dissolved in medium-chain triglyceride oil and tested to ensure the THC content is below the legal limit (0.3%). It is also labeled with its concentration of CBD and other select cannabinoids/compounds.
Plant Science Labs has been in business for more than 25 years and is one of the only producers of its type in the city of Buffalo. The facility is located in the Kensington-Grider Area and employs 18 local residents.