Aging and degradation of cannabinoids

Hi all. I’m curious to know how cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA remain stable and in the acid form in products like tinctures and topicals.
Treatwell is a company that sells tinctures made with THCA and CBDA and I’m wondering how it is that they stay in the acidic form overtime. @marco , any feedback or info on this?


Hi Taima,
The simple answer is- they don’t remain stable. It may seem like they do, but that is only because cannabis lab assay testing for manufacturers, has not yet reached the sophistication [and FDA requirements] seen in standard pharmaceutical formulations where the assay methods must be validated to +/- 1%. When that impacts the cannabis industry, then we will be able to run standard stability protocols that measure the actives every 3 months for the first 2 years of shelf life. Packaging is also an important criteria because cannabinoids are photochemicals; therefore they degrade from light exposure.
I hope that helps you.


That’s great information! :blush:

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Taima i’m sorry for the delayed response, I have been traveling in and our of the country since late summer.

I am familiar with Treat Well Health and their brand of tinctures, including cannabinoid acids and free cannbinoid varieties, THC, CBD and more.

To answer your question, yes Cann Acids are stable in solution. After all, that is how we test them in the laboratory. The instrument that measures the concentration of THC, THCA and others has to be calibrated by a standard, or a known amount of something. A standard is typically a little vial filled with alcohol and with a very precise amount of target (THC, or THCA) dissolved in it. If THCA wasn’t stable in any solution, then no chemist could calibrate their instrument for THCA. So THCA and other Cann Acids are DEFINITELY stable in solution.

Cann Acids do not do well with heat, (see article) and they also decarboxylate spontaneously in certain organic solvents such as alpha,beta-unsaturated ketones like spearmint essential oil. But in methyl, ethyl, and isopropyl alcohol Cann Acids are stable.

Here is the thing, Cann Acids are less stable than free cannabinoids. So when a standard is being delivered to the lab, THCA is delivered on dry ice so it stays cold and stable, whereas THC is fine because it is very difficult for it degrade just because it gets warm in solution. I’ve seen THCA delivered to my laboratories without dry ice come back with about 20% loss of THCA into THC. So Cann Acids are not as stable as free cannabinoids, and being in solution does not “protect” them from degradation.

I hope this answers your question.