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A sequential SFE-SPE process was explored to obtain THC with high purity from Cannabis Sativa L plant material. The effect of SFE parameters on extraction yield and THC content in the raw extract were analyzed; ethanol as co-solvent showed the main effect on both response variables, while pressure influenced the THC content. A better extraction yield was obtained at higher levels of pressure, temperature and ethanol percentage; however, these extraction conditions provided
a lower THC content. The highest THC recoveries were achieved using low ethanol percentages (2%), and an additional increase in pressure from 15 to 33 MPa improved THC extraction, but this reduced the extraction selectivity. SFE provided two extracts with the highest THC content, numbers 9 and 11 with 37.85 and 36.18% of THC, respectively. Extract number 11 was selected for the purification-isolation step due to less complexity. One single SPE step on extract number 11 allowed the extraction of THC at 90.1% purity, which was checked by chromatographic and spectroscopic analyses. On the basis of our results we conclude that from 100 g of Cannabis Sativa L plan material subjected to a sequential SFE-SPE process it is possible to obtain 13.97 g of THC enriched extract and 3.55 g of high purity THC. This is a promising candidate for an “in-house standard”, or to continue the purification
until a reference standard is obtained. We have shown the usefulness of combining SFE with SPE to obtain a raw clean extract. The foregoing allows us to have possibly a standard material type in-house THC, obtained at low cost and with fully affordable resources.
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