Horticultural and Production Research of Medical Cannabis for EXKA Inc.

Professors M. Lefsrud, V. Raghavan, and V. Orsat, Bioresource engineering, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University.

Our first project focuses on horticultural and production research of cannabis, in collaboration with McGill University Professor Mark Lefsrud. Medical cannabis is a developing field, but limited information has been published on the production, harvest, post-harvest processing (drying, grinding, storage) and extraction of the cannabis plant. Factors that impact the accumulation of terpenes, cannabinoids and other secondary metabolites in cannabis are poorly understood. Understanding the environmental factors that influence the synthesis of these compounds will allow the development of production methods that optimize the production and ratios of these compounds. Likewise, methods need to be developed to maximize the extraction and purification of these compounds for medical applications.

Post-harvest processing of medical cannabis is an important part of the production process, but the public knowledge available for optimal extraction technologies is very limited as most knowledge is anecdotal or kept as trade secrets. The retention of trade secrets has limited the development of this field and resulted in conflicting methods and an absence of standards to produce medical cannabis. This lack of standards has resulted in large variations in the yield and quality of the final product. This project, which has already started, was designed with the objective to find answers to these questions. In March 2020, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded a $500,000 grant for this project ($100,000 per year from 2019 to 2023). EXKA will match the grant with an annual contribution of $50,000, bringing the total amount to $750,000 over five years for this research project.