Scott Holden is a wealth of knowledge about all things cannabis, from extractions tech to genetics to international regulations. As the founder and owner of CBD Global, he has been at the forefront of cannabinoid extraction technology since its inception nearly a decade ago.
In a recent webcast with Cultivate’s Genifer Murray, Holden generously shared his insights into what has become a somewhat murky world of cannabinoid isolates and sales. Throughout their interview, his dedication to the scientific approach is evident, but so too is his company’s lighthearted side, as demonstrated by the #Hadenoughyet campaign.
CBD Global: Following in the Footsteps of Many Cannabis Founders
Holden’s interest in cannabis followed what is now a familiar plot. CBD Global initially sprouted from a mission to solve a medical crisis. In 2012, Holden was scrambling to find anything that might reverse his father’s terminal diagnosis. As he remembers it, during his sleepless nights of research, all roads kept leading back to medical cannabis. As Holden was already dabbling in extractions at the time, he began developing clean, nonintoxicating extracts useful for his father’s condition.
Cannabis extracts, particularly CBD-rich formulas, brought his father back from a terminal diagnosis. Eight years later, Holden’s father continues with daily maintenance doses for balance.
Given the success he witnessed in his father’s case, Holden pivoted his career from Software and Encryption Technology into biological sciences. In 2013, CBD Global was born, predating the pro-hemp legislation within the 2018 US Farm Bill and becoming one of the first CBD companies on the market.
A Strong Scientific Basis
Since the very beginning, CBD Global has chosen to take a research-based approach to product development. As early as 2013, they partnered with three universities to explore cannabis genome sequencing, gene transformation with CRISPR, and variations in human bioavailability.
In some circles, genetic modification is a dirty word, but Holden approaches it from the technical definition. In his opinion, “I am okay with genetic engineering to a point.” Scientifically, “Manipulating DNA, meaning red and green light, on and off switches, these are things you can still do within the genome, and it’s not considered GMO because it does not program for something unnatural to the plant. Not by the [Food and Drug Administration], not by the Department of Agriculture.” To that end, CBD Global has been using gene gun editing, chemical mutagenesis, and Agrobacterium-mediated transformation to create a more robust, medicinally valuable, and cost-effective plant.
As an example, CBD Global has worked within the plant’s genome to amplify and mute different gene expressions, including for THC. Their research led to the development of a highly specialized, high-producing genotype in a nonintoxicating plant. In an extract world filled with THC remediation technologies, CBD Global benefits from reduced post-harvest processing costs to remove THC.
The Revolving Market for Extracts
It’s been seven years since CBD Global launched, yet already the market for extractions has gone through several revolutions. In the beginning, the demand for CBD isolates was astronomical. Holden recalls selling CBD for tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram, but the market for cannabinoids quickly moved on to novel cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and others.
Each new cannabinoid isolate captivates the market as the next magic ingredient, but as producers pivot, it quickly devalues. For example, Holden describes the demand for CBG. It was supposed to be the next big cannabinoid, and for a time, it was —getting $60,000 per kilo. But not for long, as the price has settled down to $3,000 to $6,000 per kilo. These rapid changes have caught several producers with their pants down.
CBD Global is responsible for the initial launch of several of these isolates into the US market, and it continues to develop more. It now offers CBD HQ, CBC, CBG, CBN, and of course, CBD. CBDG also formulates these raw materials into second-generation products such as True Nano™, water-miscible liquids, and high-speed flowable powders.
From the helm of CBD Global, Holden has witnessed the industry’s race to the bottom. Yet from the beginning, with a strictly scientific approach, the company has remained unscathed from this turmoil. As he sees it, a focus on transparency and a legitimate chain of custody have insulated them from many of the market changes. In a sector often rocked by supply issues, they have also concentrated on strong vertical integration, starting at the seed.
A Lighthearted Campaign on the CBD Pixiedust Syndrome
CBD Global has maintained an unwavering dedication to research and development in the face of a health and wellness industry gone mad. But, that doesn’t mean the office hasn’t had a laugh or two over the strange trends in CBD consumer goods.
Holden has grabbed a lot of attention recently for the CBD comic “Had Enough Yet?” It’s a tongue-in-cheek response to the medical claims, CBD jargon, and pixie dust sprinkling of CBD on everything over the years. For producers, retailers, and even general consumers, it’s a lighthearted look at just how crazy the CBD market has become. It also helps to dispel some of the myths perpetuated within popular merchandising campaigns.
What’s Next for the CBD Industry?
With the Food and Drug Administration expected to announce regulations on CBD and perhaps other cannabinoids, it’s reckoning time for many of the more nefarious players in American CBD. But with years of chain of custody paperwork, Cannabis Transparency Standards™ certificates, and strict adherence to American legalities, CBD Global stands head and shoulders above most.
With continued research in three universities, sales in 17 countries, and over 600 wholesale customers, CBD Global is perfectly positioned to work within a well-regulated industry. It’s only a matter of time until a missing scientific approach challenges the companies operating under a wild, wild, west approach.