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WHAT IS CBG?

Do you know why cannabis makes you feel so good? One reason is cannabinoids. They’re also a big reason why cannabis is good for you. Yes, these potent compounds affect how you feel, but they may also be an effective treatment for disease and help return your body to balanced health. 

THC and CBD are the most prominent and well-researched cannabinoids, but as cannabis science progresses, we’re learning more about the so-called minor cannabinoids. CBG (cannabigerol) is one of them. But don’t let the word “minor” fool you. CBG plays a major role in the cannabis plant and human wellness. So what is CBG? Slow your roll. We’ll get there, but first, let’s talk cannabinoids.

WHAT ARE CANNABINOIDS?

There are over 100 cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. They’re found in the plant’s trichomes. Trichomes are those sticky, resinous glands on the surface of the cannabis flower that crystallize when cured. They’re what makes that frosty eighth glisten, and that’s why that frost is so coveted: more trichomes = more cannabinoids = more of what we love about weed.

Trichomes also help maintain plant health. Recent research suggests they act as sunscreen, absorb harmful UV-B radiation, prevent overheating, mitigate water loss, and deter predatory insects and pests.

HOW ARE CANNABINOIDS ACTIVATED?

Cannabinoids are produced as non-psychoactive cannabinoid acids such as THCA and CBDA. Before THCA and CBDA can become the psychoactive cannabinoids THC and CBD, they must be activated in a process called decarboxylation

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that occurs when cannabinoids in their acidic state are exposed to heat or light. This process removes the carboxyl group from the molecule, releasing carbon dioxide and transforming the acidic cannabinoid into its active form. So when you blaze that preroll, burning the weed converts THCA into THC to get you higher than a Humboldt redwood. 

So now that we’ve given you a little background, let’s talk CBG.

WHAT IS CBG?

CBG (cannabigerol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid produced in the cannabis plant as an acidic precursor called CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). CBG is often referred to as the “mother” cannabinoid because it’s the original compound in cannabis that major cannabinoids such as CBD and THC come from.

When CBGA is exposed to heat or light, decarboxylation converts it into CBG. Alternatively, if CBGA is exposed to an enzyme called THCA synthase, it can convert into THC. Similarly, exposure to different enzymes may cause CGBA to convert to CBD or CBC. It’s a lot, but it’s the science that gets you high.

From a health and wellness perspective, one of the most amazing things about CBG is that if it’s extracted from the cannabis plant before any conversion, it remains pure with no psychoactive properties. This creates a very real possibility for cannabis-derived therapies and treatments without legal complications or psychoactive side effects.

HOW MUCH CBG IS IN THE CANNABIS PLANT?

Interestingly, young cannabis plants contain higher amounts of CBGA than mature plants. Mature plants typically have very low concentrations of CBG because it converts into CBDA and THCA as the plant develops. As a result, CBGA typically makes up less than 1% of the total cannabinoid content in most cannabis cultivars.

That said, certain cannabis cultivars have higher concentrations of CBGA, such as White CBG and Jack Frost CBG. Moreover, cannabis cultivators continue experimenting with cross-breeding and genetic manipulation to help cannabis plants produce more CBG. 

IS CBG LEGAL?

The federal law classified cannabis as a Schedule I Narcotic in the Controlled Substance Act. Then the 2018 Farm Bill came along and legalized hemp. Hemp is defined as any cannabis plant with under 0.3% THC. Therefore, all cannabis plants that exceed that limit are still federally illegal. As a result, cannabis-derived CBG is federally illegal, and hemp-derived CBG is federally legal. 

On the state level, cannabis-derived CBG is legal in states with recreational or medical cannabis laws, provided that production and sale comply with that state’s regulations. It remains illegal in states without those laws. 

As an aside, it’s worth mentioning that prohibition is responsible for all this arbitrary legal madness, yet another reason why it must end.

CBG’S EFFECTS AND BENEFITS

The latest science suggests that CBG may be an effective treatment for the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Glaucoma: CBG may have neuroprotective properties that could help treat glaucoma, which can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss.
  • Pain and Inflammation: CBG may have anti-inflammatory properties, making it helpful in treating pain from arthritis and other conditions.
  • Cancer:Some research suggests that CBG may inhibit tumor growth and effectively treat certain cancer types.
  • Crohn’s diseaseCGB may be an effective treatment for Crohn’s by alleviating the inflammation and discomfort associated with many typical symptoms. 
  • Antibacterial: CBG may be effective in inhibiting bacterial growth.
  • Huntington’s and Parkinson’s Disease: CBG may reduce inflammation and neuronal loss in Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.
  • Anxiety and depression: CBG may be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression as it has demonstrated some anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in animal studies.
  • Blood Pressure: CBG may lower pressure.
  • Appetite Stimulant: CBG may be a potent appetite stimulant.

While the research on CBG is new and emerging, it’s promising. That said, more research is needed to fully understand CBG’s potential therapeutic benefits. 

One of the reasons we don’t know more about CBG is that prohibition has stifled cannabis research for over 50 years. 

Why? 


None other than Schedule I status — again, emphasizing how cannabis is still treated differently than other commonly accepted drugs, even with empirical data. 

DOES THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT IMPROVE THE EFFICACY OF CBG?

The short answer to this question is that we don’t know. There’s a ton of anecdotal evidence indicating that may be the case, but there is no definitive scientific research. 

The entourage effect is complex, and the interactions between different cannabinoids and other compounds in the cannabis plant are not fully understood. Schedule I strikes again. More research is needed. On the upside, in states with legal weed, you can always do your own research. Rad.

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