Introduction: Cannabis is a valuable plant, cultivated by humans for millennia. However, it has only been in the past several decades that biologists have begun to clarify the interesting Cannabis biosynthesis details, especially the production of its fascinating natural products termed acidic cannabinoids.
Discussion: Acidic cannabinoids can experience a common organic chemistry reaction known as decarboxylation, transforming them into structural analogues referred to as neutral cannabinoids with far different pharmacology. This review addresses acidic and neutral cannabinoid structural pairs, when and where acidic cannabinoid decarboxylation occurs, the kinetics and mechanism of the decarboxylation reaction as well as possible future directions for this topic.
Conclusions: Acidic cannabinoid decarboxylation is a unique transformation that has been increasingly investigated over the past several decades. Understanding how acidic cannabinoid decarboxylation occurs naturally as well as how it can be promoted or prevented during harvesting or storage is important for the various stakeholders in Cannabis cultivation.
Keywords: Cannabis, acidic cannabinoid, decarboxylation, neutral cannabinoid