Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of many fascinating cannabinoids being widely discovered and used in new ways by cannabis aficionados and others who are interested to experience its effects. Keep reading for more information about this unique, scarce and exciting cannabinoid, and the top strains that have been developed to deliver its benefits.
Brief background on CBD and hemp-derived cannabinoids.
Skip ahead if you are familiar with CBD 101, the Farm Bill, and all of that. If not, here’s what you need to know about CBD (Cannabidiol) and cannabis legality, etc. All cannabinoids are derived from cannabis, a single plant that is responsible for illegal marijuana and legal hemp. The amount of Delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive substance in cannabis, existent in the plant material per dry weight determines the federal-compliance of the final product. For instance these smokeable CBD hemp flowers contain less than .3% of Delta-9 THC, but up to 20% total cannabinoids. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid called CBD is one of the most prominent and has a bevy of beneficial qualities that you no doubt have heard about by now. To learn more about how cannabinoids work with human biology, check out the article: Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System.
With this new federal-compliance benchmark of .3% THC, hemp was removed from the list of Schedule 1 substances in the 2014 Farm Bill. This ushered in a wave of long-desired research into the cannabis plant and the many compounds it contains. The simple but crucial change in the legal status of hemp has been a huge step forward by allowing research into the medical and wellness benefits of cannabis, and CBG specifically.
Why is CBG so scarce?
CBG is abundant in developing cannabis as the precursor to other cannabinoids but it can be rare in the end product—why is this?
Cannabigerolic acid (CBGa) is the precursor of cannabigerol (CBG) and is responsible for creating most downstream synthesized cannabinoids like THC and CBD (3). Because of this CBG is lovingly called the “mother of all cannabinoids,” but since most of the CBGa is converted into cannabinoids, traditionally there is very little left in the plant upon harvest and use. Therefore CBG has a high production cost and it can actually take thousands of pounds of biomass to yield a small amount of CBG isolate (1).
Why is CBG an important cannabinoid?
The endocannabinoid system of the human body is a complex cell-signaling system which is integral for maintaining health. Endocannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body, including in the brain, immune cells, connective tissues, glands, and organs. A 2018 study indicates that CBG is a regulator of endocannabinoid signaling (4), so it may have a small part to play in almost all of human physiology.
Remember that research into cannabis is a relatively new frontier. While much more is needed, the recent findings from what is currently available mean that scientists are on the right track.
The top companies for CBG
How do you determine the top five strains with CBG? We first need to look at the companies who are working with the plant’s genetics, to understand why and how these strains came about and why they outperform others. We’ll look at three major innovators in the CBG space, and the top five CBG strains they’ve given us.
Oregon CBD Seeds is the company that introduced the first pure CBG strain to North America in 2017 (7). As research and progress continued, in 2018 it was speculated that the mass farming of cannabinoids could all be done with farming industrial hemp for CBG, because CBG would only need to have the right synthase added to it to make it THC, CBD, or CBC (8). After three years of lab work and field testing, they produced two initial strains that had a big impact on the industry in 2020: White CBG, and Stem Cell. Later the company released their Sour G CBG.
High Grade Hemp Seed from Colorado is another company that put much effort into CBG, and partnered with the original developer of Matterhorn CBG, Matthias Ghidossi, founder of Swiss Cannabanoid, to make it available in the United States. Ghidossi worked with geneticists and pharmaceutical companies to cultivate, trial-test, and register this strain. High Grade Hemp Seed field tested Matterhorn for two years and currently offers it as a prime strain for commercial production (11).
Sunbelt Seeds out of Georgia is the third company we’ll discuss who produce a top-rating CBG strain called The Grail CBG. The company went through a lengthy phenotype selection process to create a stable pest resistant strain suitable that has been tested for multiple climates and flourished everywhere (12).
The top 5 strains with CBG
Oregon CBD Seeds started with the strain called “The White” which is an industry leading cannabinoid producer, and converted it to a pure CBG phenotype, bred for increased terpene and resin production. The plants grow vigorously with large frosty flowers and huge colas. A creamy-lemon aroma and terpene profile make this a sativa strain that is associated with a sense of calm, clarity and focus without any grogginess or sleepiness. Capable of producing up to 20% CBG while staying below .3% total THC (9).
Referencing its nature as the precursor to other cannabinoids, CBG has also been called the “stem cell cannabinoid” and that’s perhaps what inspired the name of this strain, also from the initial offerings from Oregon CBD Seeds. It was specifically developed for biomass production and extraction. This strain has very little terpene content which allows it to be mass harvested, since the trichomes don’t gum up the equipment like stickier buds do. Another result is that very little odor is produced so this strain is useful for situations that require stealth (9). Averaging 16% CBG with .11 THC.
Sour G CBG
Sour G CBG is Oregon CBD’s latest release. It’s lineage comes from Sour Diesel, but it is mostly sour in name only. It produces large, dominant, but slightly less dense flowers than the White CBG. It is a shorter statured plant but still produces solid yields of tasty, crystal-covered flower. It’s a high CBG yielding plant capable of producing upwards of 20% CBG, with averages in the 13-16% range. While not an overpowering aroma, the nose is mainly citrus, diesel, earthy, and peppery (14).
This strain began from Carmagnola lineage, an Italian sativa strain of hemp used mainly for fiber (10). It boasts a 15% CBG level with a very low average of .09% THC. Great for extraction but also very smokeable, Matterhorn has a hoppy lemon and lime profile and has proven itself to be a consistent, stable, and reliable choice for CBG (11).
The Grail CBG
The Grail CBG strain was developed over a 5 year period utilizing a wild hemp variety that has then been crossed and back crossed multiple times per year for 5 years to make a stable high-CBG plant that can reach up to 10 feet tall. Averaging a 15-17% CBG content with very low THC. It grows well in diverse climates and is known for easy harvesting. It is another producer strain that is also smokaeable, with a profile similar to others in this list: soft citrus with lingering aromas of fresh hops (13).
The best CBG for you
With strong market interest, and more new research underway, expect to see more and more CBG strains and products on shelves in the future. Geneticists will continue to cross-breed high-CBG cannabis into interesting hybrids that combine feature sets from other strains. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of CBG, we suggest you do your own research, try a few strains, and share your favorite with a friend.
If you aren’t into smoking or vaping CBD hemp flower, there are lots of options out there for you. High quality CBD gummies, tinctures, and more are available everywhere with all sorts of options these days. Just remember to purchase from a reputable brand that maintains a tight chain of custody and uses third party testing to ensure safety and potency. Most importantly have fun experimenting!