First-Ever Odourless Cannabis – Yea or Nay?

A Canadian company announced last week that cannabis without the smell could be coming soon to dispensaries. Brampton, Ont.-based CannabCo Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday that it will launch an “odourless cannabis,” and claims that it is the first ever to do so.

The company says in the statement that it will use a technology called “PURECANN” to create the odourless cannabis, and has exclusive rights to use the technology in its Canadian production. Upon receiving its license from Health Canada, CannabCo will have exclusive rights to deploy the technology.

PURECANN was originally developed for the medical market to eliminate the harshness of smoking cannabis without it losing its properties.

The end result will be cannabis that will not only be nearly odourless, but also less harsh to smoke, which could be appealing to new users who often receive coughing fits when first trying cannabis.

It would spark up relatively the same as the juicy, green buds at your local pot shop, only its smell would be “virtually undetectable” in its container and even when torched with a lighter, according to the company.

“Cannabis by its nature when burnt, typically causes coughing and is very heavy when inhaled, which is especially true for new users,” says Mark Novak, Cannabco’s COO.

The technology eliminates the cannabis odour when packaged and stored before use, and during the time it is smoked.

“There are no third-party gadgets, or devices on the part of the user, the result is pure cannabis that doesn’t smell,” says President and CEO Mark Pellicane. “A number of users and people that are around cannabis smokers complain about the smell, especially in enclosed areas, condos, and apartments, and this technology addresses those concerns.”

The tech company states that PureCann has:

Virtually undetectable odour of dry product during storage
Greatly reduced cannabis odour (virtually undetectable) during combustion
Reduces harshness resulting in a very smooth smoke on combustion
May be used to produce a “connoisseur” product for a unique market segment
Less residual heavy feeling “day after effect” associated with smoking cannabis
CannabCo is currently constructing its pilot facility in Brampton and has received a Confirmation of Readiness notification from Health Canada for their pending cannabis license. After obtaining their license, Cannabco intends to implement the PureCann technology to produce several product lines including oils, extracts, and consumable.

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Cannabco also recently announced the intention to deploy Phoenix technology for its indoor grow operations reducing cannabis production costs to under $.50 per gram.

Dank smell

Cannabis typically has a very strong smell that can travel easily if not properly stored. Cannabis smell seems to produce a “love it or hate it” reaction from people. While some appreciate the subtle notes of the smell and use it to help predict the nature of the strain, others do not enjoy its pungency.

It will be interesting to see if this apparently odourless cannabis will affect its flavour or potency. According to Adolfo Gonzalez, a founder of cannabis sommelier course CannaReps, cannabis’ flavour and aroma are one and the same, and the smell is a good indication of the quality of the cannabis.

But what is weed without the dank? The distinct whiff familiar to marijuana comes from terpenes, a class of essential oils made by plants, according to Peter Grinspoon, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and a board member of the advocacy group Doctors For Cannabis Regulation.

For example, limonene is a terpene that gives lemons, oranges and some varieties of cannabis a citrus fragrance. Sure, it’s possible to wash or remove terpenes from nugs, but terpenes also contribute to flavor, so Purecann would presumably taste pretty bland. Pellicane confirmed that in the process, terpenes are affected, but said the tech itself is proprietary.

“Terpenes are such an important part of the enjoyment recreationally, as well as the medicinal properties,” Grinspoon told Motherboard. “Why would you take away the odor?”

While research is still inconclusive, some studies suggest that terpenes can contribute to the medicinal properties of marijuana. Linalool, for example, is a terpene found in some types of weed, but is best known for giving lavender its signature stink. In rodents, linalool shows potential as an antidepressant, anti-convulsant, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety medication.

“It’s clear that the terpenes contribute to some of the medicinal qualities [of marijuana],” Grinspoon said. He added that it’s impossible to make smoke completely odorless because using heat to combust plant matter will still create an aroma.

“It seems like a gimmick to me,” Grinspoon said. “As a doctor, we never recommend people smoke anyways. We recommend using a vape or a tincture or something, because we don’t want to cause irritation of the lungs.”

CannabCo claims its scentless chronic can also reduce the harsh burn of taking a bong rip, which would make it easier for first-time stoners to enjoy taking a hit. But Grinspoon says there’s not a lot of evidence behind this claim.

“How would they know that?” Grinspoon asked. “I mean, you couldn’t do a randomized placebo-controlled trial because people would taste the difference.”

Market potential

Nevertheless, CannabCo likely is targeting the cannabis smell haters, and predicts that there could be a healthy market of users.

“In using this technology CannabCo will be able to produce a wide variety of products currently not in the marketplace, addressing a key market segment that currently does not exist,” CannabCo COO Mark Novak said in a statement.

“Imagine someone going outside for a break during the day, having their afternoon cannabis and coming back without any odour attached to their clothing or coat.” Pellicane said. “A woman can carry cannabis in her purse without having the odour concentrated or leaking out in her handbag.

“A number of users, and people that are around cannabis smokers, complain about the smell especially in enclosed areas, condos, and apartments, and this technology addresses those concerns.”

Cannabis does appear to be going in directions that are pushing the drug further and further away from its original flower offering. Soon products such as cannabis-infused food (edibles) and beverages (drinkables) will be legal in Canada in October and offer consumers ways of consuming cannabis that do not involve smoking or its traditional smell.

These products are expected to draw in up to $2.7 billion for Canada’s cannabis industry, according to a June report from Deloitte.

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