Loyalist College’s Applied Research Centre for Natural Products and Medical Cannabis is the only college in the country approved by Health Canada to do research and analysis of medical marijuana, and it has received just over $1.3 million in grant money.
The lab is capable of a process called carbon dioxide extraction. Dr. Kari Kramp runs the lab and says it has a lot of benefits over traditional methods that require solvents.
“It’s not toxic, it’s not flammable, it’s a green technology because of the temperature you use when you do CO2 extraction, you don’t degrade natural products.”
The lab has been on a bit of a spending spree buying new equipment after receiving the grant money.
College president Ann Marie Vaughan says the money comes from a public, private match.
“We received $660,000 from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and we leveraged the same from industry.”
There are several reasons why businesses are investing in the lab. Kemp says for medical marijuana producers, it’s about product consistency.
“One of the ways to measure the potency, so THC and CBD are two of the cannabinoids that you would hear probably most about and those we’re able to quantify accurately.”
Cost comes into play as well.
Chemical engineering student Nathan Smejkal works with a lot of small craft brewers, analyzing everything from acid levels in hops to alcohol content.
“Smaller-like craft brewers, they can’t afford $100,000 pieces of equipment and so this is a great opportunity to make sure their product is quality every time.”
Students get hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology working hand in hand with industry, an advantage when looking for work after graduation.
This success hasn’t happened overnight — building the lab has been a process of over a decade involving an investment of almost $1 million by the college.