At Greenwich Biosciences, central to our commitment to serving patient needs is our ability to bring forward prescription cannabinoid medicines that are effective and consistent. To fulfill this aim, Greenwich’s UK-based parent company, GW Pharmaceuticals plc, relies upon 20 years of proven experience growing cannabis plants specifically for pharmaceutical use and manufacturing processes that meet high standards for safety and quality, in line with the World Health Organization's Good Agriculture Practices and the FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practices.
Growing Process Rooted in Science
The journey of our cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical medicines begins in an in-house cannabis growing process that is controlled by expert botanical scientists. Our plant breeding techniques are designed to develop plants that contain elevated levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and low levels of other cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). From start to finish, each crop’s growing process is managed according to a specified growing protocol to ensure uniform production and composition.
“Our scientists have a deep understanding of the cannabis growing process and of different cannabis extracts,” said Dave Cooper, Vice President for Manufacturing and Supply Chain at GW.
World Class Facilities
While acknowledging the company’s dedication to scientific rigor in CBD research and manufacturing, Cooper also highlights the investment in a dedicated infrastructure to support its pharmaceutical production.
“We have invested in world-class facilities for growing cannabis plants and refining complex extracts to produce a highly purified CBD product,” notes Cooper.
All cannabis plants used in the CBD manufacturing process are grown in a pesticide and contaminant-free environment at the company’s licensed and regulated facilities. The growing process takes place in glasshouses where light, heat and humidity are kept at optimal levels for plant health and growth.
Creating a highly purified CBD Formulation
After the cannabis plants are harvested at full maturity and the stems are removed, the flowers and leaves are dried and sent to the company’s processing center. Here, the remaining cannabis plant goes through several critical steps leading to a formulation for pharmaceutical use.
First a chemical reaction called decarboxylation is utilized to convert the mostly inactive acid with the active molecule. To yield a CBD-rich extract, CO2 is passed through the material to enable the extraction process and destroy any bacteria present. This is followed by an isolation stage that produces the highly purified CBD by refining the extract and removing the unwanted naturally occurring components of the cannabis plant material. The isolated and highly purified CBD is quality tested and stabilized before it is released for final formulation.
Formulating and Packaging CBD Oral Solution
After the active CBD pharmaceutical ingredient is quality checked, it is then taken through its final product manufacturing and packaging steps. To produce Greenwich’s CBD oral solution, the CBD is dissolved, quality checked once again, and filled into sterile glass bottles. Following the labeling process, the CBD oral solution is packaged prior to distribution center delivery.
In his role, Cooper has a front row seat to the CBD manufacturing process – from plant to packaging. While he is proud of helping produce the world’s first FDA-approved CBD, he is most gratified by the teamwork and passion for patient needs that goes into the process every day.
“The patient focus at our company ripples through everything we do,” says Cooper. “Our entire team is focused on doing things that improve lives. It makes me incredibly proud to be part of the journey that delivers much needed medicines to patients.”