Whether you've been using cannabis for decades or you're just now diving into the topic, no one would think you silly for asking “what is a marijuana extraction technician?” because it's a profession that's relatively new to the industry. In the simplest terms, a marijuana extraction technician is a person with the skills to safely separate the oily, cannabinoid-rich trichomes from cannabis flowers. However, it's a job that requires knowledge of using sophisticated and potentially dangerous (flammable and explosive) equipment to extract the unique compounds marijuana produces from plant matter.
Interest in cannabis extracts, known as wax, shatter, oil, or crumble, depending on its consistency and quality, has surged among medical patients and recreational consumers alike in recent years for several reasons. In addition to being much more potent than cannabis flowers, high-quality marijuana extracts have minimal odor and they can either be smoked/vaporized directly or infused into edible products.
Since there isn't an official certification process for the position yet, marijuana extraction technicians benefit from a working knowledge of several scientific subjects, such as chemistry, physics, phytobiology, or chemical engineering, and some companies require their techs to have a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in at least one of these fields. Cannabis concentrates are made by applying industrial solvents, heat, and pressure to plant matter through a variety of methods with the aim to chemically extract pure compounds, with the best ones resulting in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contents of 80% or more. Extract technicians need to know how to use butane and carbon dioxide to create marijuana concentrates as well as operate closed-loop hydrocarbon extraction systems (like those made by BHOGART in California) or sometimes even commercial rosin presses.
Becoming an excellent marijuana extraction technician requires an effort to learn and get real-world experience, but the payoff for your efforts are well worth it. As one of the cannabis industry's most in-demand jobs, marijuana extraction technicians can expect to make upwards of $80,000-120,000 per year, depending on the size of the operation. Also, if you plan to start a cannabis extraction company yourself, however, prepare for a complicated application process with your state and local governments.