Season 2 Ask an Expert Encore: Building Cannabinoids with Dr Markus Roggen

Welcome to the Season 2 Ask an Expert Encore, Building Cannabinoids with Dr Markus Roggen. Watch Dr. Markus play with a molecular kit and get ready to learn something because after all, there’s nothing like a visual. With the molecule in front of you, it’s easy to understand concepts such as:

  • The structural makeup of THC, CBD
  • The molecular foundations of terpenes
  • The differences and similarities of THC and CBD
  • What decarboxylation does

Want the concentrated version of building cannabinoids? We totally get it and got you covered…

Molecular Model Index

Black balls – Carbon atoms

Red balls – Oxygen atoms

White connectors – Enzyme bonds

We begin with the starting point for all terpenes, called an isoprene. When you take two isoprene units and stitch them together, you create one of the most common terpenes, Myrcene. 

Found within the cannabis plant, terpene molecules create both the aroma and taste of a strain; but, that’s not all terpenes do. Terpenes help make up the basic frame of THC and CBD.

Cannabis compounds – molecular makeup

It begins with a benzene ring; add oxygen atoms, a carbon tail, and an acid group… voila! You are ready to bond with a terpene. You got CBGA. To become CBDA, A protein chain is flipped around and one more bond is added. Want THCA? It’s as simple as removing an enzyme bond.


Decarboxylation – The process of activating compounds within the cannabis plant by removing a carboxyl group and releasing carbon dioxide.

You can decarboxylate a THCA molecule using heat or introduce a lipid for the molecule to bind to. To put it simply, decarboxylation happens when you take off the carboxyl group that is circled in the photo above.

Do you have questions about this and want to ask Dr. Markus Roggen? Go ahead! Please send us your questions through social media. #askanexpert