Inside the Quest to Create Odorless Cannabis
Consuming discreetly became a little easier with the help from this company.
Depending on the sort of consumer you are, the unmistakable odor of cannabis can be seen as either a liability or an asset. The terpenes responsible for the scent account for much of a bud’s taste and effects, but they can also contribute to “probable cause” which may permit the police to search your car in some states, though not as many as it used to. And not all landlords or passersby are crazy for the scent either. Environmentalists have also remarked that some terpenes, labeled volatile organic compounds by researchers, can mix with car and truck exhaust to create ozone, which can create dangerous levels of air pollution. With that and the inevitable complaints grow sites receive about their scents from their neighborhoods, hints that scentless alternatives might mitigate such objections have inspired Canadian-based cannabis company Cannabco Pharmaceutical Corp. to pursue this goal. Just recently, the company released a proof-of-concept report that placed it even closer to success.
In a test conducted at the odor assessment laboratory Scentroid, CannabCo asserted that their cannabis exhibited a 600% odor reduction over the tested cannabis strains. And while all burnt smoked material gives off a scent, the company’s cannabis couldn’t be detected within a four-meter radius, whereas regular cannabis could be sensed by distances up to 50 meters. CannabCo’s hedonic qualities, which measure the likelihood that a scent will stimulate a response, were also impressive; whereas 90% of regular cannabis were likely to do so, the company’s “Odourless Cannabis” was far less so.
CannabCo has been working on its PureScent technology for its Odorless Cannabis line of products since 2019. ”It wasn’t created to be odorless initially. It was created as a medical product,” CannabCo CEO Mark Pellicane told The Green Room Podcast. “Cannabis by its very nature, the dank, hard-smelling cannabis that people love — it’s harsh. It’s heavy. So if you take it for medical purposes, some people they can cough their head off. And if you’re taking it as medicine, it’s too harsh for those people. In the process of making it less harsh, it became odorless.”
Indeed, one of CannabCo’s prime selling points for its cannabis is its relative gentleness on the body compared to regular cannabis. “We pull out a lot of the impurities,” Pellicane says of the PureScent process, noting that it doesn’t extract the terpenes out as much as it curtails their odor. And CannabCo’s technology is not wedded to a specific strain — Pellicane mentioned various different strains, such as Gelato, Gorilla Glue and Northern Lights, they have applied PureScent to as well. To reassure adult-use smokers concerned that scentlessness might rob their favorite strains of their potency, the company released lab results in 2021 of a strain with 35% THC. CannabCo mentions that they should be able to produce strains that span the continuum of THC concentrations and cannabinoid ratios, from .3% smokable hemp to THC levels in the high 30s.
For their part, CannabCo recognizes that cannabis connoisseurs will always want to smell their cannabis. Pellicane insists he’s not trying to take away that experience from the market, but to create more options for consumers, especially for those in apartments or living with people who abhor cannabis’s odors. And they do exist out there — in a Buzzfeed poll, just over half of US citizens said they had a problem with cannabis odors, while 23% said that the smell of cannabis was a major problem. In Canada, it’s even worse; 57% don’t like the smell in public and 60% consider it either a major or minor problem. Sixty-three percent of Canadians would also like to see all smoking banned in outdoor areas like parks, which hurts the adoption strategy of CannabCo.
Regardless, the company attends to roll out their product later in the year. And if it does what it claims it can do, we’ll barely even know that it’s there.