Nanotechnology is a branch of technology that involves substances less than 100 nanometers large. This is essentially a thousand times finer than one sheet of paper.
So why has it become a hot buzzword in cannabis technology? What does it have to do with cannabis?
Nanotechnology can actually shrink a cannabis molecule down to 4440%
This is why nanotech has become increasingly popular in the last few years and it’s been seen to have a dramatic impact on the cannabis sector. Though nanotech can be applied to various industries, in cannabis, when you’re dealing with substances that small in size, you’re dealing with a completely new substance because its chemical reactivity, strength, and many other properties are changed. In other words, when substances like CBD and THC can be broken down and their molecules are made to be so small that they can be absorbed by the bloodstream so much more efficiently than a regular particle, we can benefit from their health properties quicker and faster.
“Most American consumers generally don’t smoke,” says Josh Kirby to Digital Trends, “and they’re not going to change that habit when they come into the cannabis space. So we wanted to look for a way to provide a smoke-free product,” he explains. This propelled him and his team to delve deep into R&D. “We started going into these dispensaries and realized the vast majority of infused products that were available at the time were like brownies made in somebody’s kitchen. They were wrapped in plastic wrap and had, like, had Sharpie written on them with whatever the strain was put in there.”
Surely, nanotech edibles are nothing like the space brownies you’ve had before, especially those developed by Kirby. “The goal has always been to like, make something that would be indistinguishable from a product on a Walgreen shelf,” he adds, “something people could feel really confident in buying.”
Most entrepreneurs in the nanotech cannabis space feel this way. There’s got to be something better out there if you need to medicate and edibles are here taking 30 minutes or even an hour or more for you to feel its effects.
Nano edibles, and other cannabis products made with nanotechnology, have been designed to offer relief in 15 minutes or less.
“As the particles get smaller and smaller, the microparticles still behave very similarly to the macroparticles,” explains Anubhav Pratap Singh, PhD, to Well + Good. “But as we reduce the particles to a few hundred nanometers, some properties of the particles are completely different than the old particles.. for instance, they can pass through gaps that they were unable to pass through before. So we try to take advantage of this in different forms.”
Curaleaf Holdings also just unveiled their nanotech beverage, called Select Squeeze. The technology they employ converts cannabis oil to water-soluble molecules. Curaleaf says that you can feel its effects in just 15 to 30 minutes after consuming it, “significantly faster than traditional edibles.”
We can only expect to see many more cannabis products out there, and the thought is nothing short of exciting.
Why is this important or relevant to cannabis?
Well, more people are becoming more health conscious than ever. That means that the traditional ways cannabis was consumed in the past, such as through smoking to inhale it in the lungs, is no longer seen as an attractive way to consume the drug. For this reason, people are seeking out healthier ways to obtain the health benefits of the plant without consuming it. That’s why we now have THC and CBD products in capsule, pill, edible, topical, or beverage form that is made with nanotechnology.
Studies show that when CBD oil is manufactured properly, it has the potential to boost the amount of CBD in the bloodstream.
One study in 2018, which was published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, revealed that Sativex’s bioavailability when compared to a nanoemulsion of CBD and THC, was significantly less compared to the nanoemulsion. Meanwhile, another study in the Journal of Controlled Release analyzed the bioavailability of a CBD and THC nanoemulsion and compared it with Sativex found that the participants had a significantly higher absorption rate when they consumed the nanoemulsion versus Sativex.
Aside from quicker absorption, nanotechnology is also important because it enables consumers to achieve the same effect using a smaller amount as you normally would, and with less time. It’s more about quantity than it is quality, and when you consume cannabis products that are made using nanotech, it’s simply much more efficient.
How much do we know about nanotechnology?
It looks great on paper, but nanotechnology within the cannabis sector still needs a lot more research. While nanotechnology IS actual technology, with applications already existing and succeeding in other fields, but in the world of cannabis, we simply need some more research. This is particularly needed for perishables, because in a lab nanotech weed could perform terrific but it could also have an impact on the taste and shelf life of an edible that’s been out on display for a few months, for example.
Nanotechnology is still considered novel tech, so consumers will have to do some experimentation on their own. In fact, there’s a hot debate surrounding the efficacy or safety or nanotech cannabis simply because it’s still so new. Just be wary of brands that are promising bold claims with their nano products, and when you’re trying out nano edibles, follow the same method as you would when trying something new: start slow. Do your research on the brands that market it as well; this goes for any kind of cannabis product you’re buying from the market.