behind the magic

Get to know our team

  • Ph.D. Chemistry University of New Orleans
  • Published Research Scientist on Cannabinoids
  • Advisor for Scientific & Legislative Conferences
Chief Scientific Officer
Head of research and development
and analytical laboratory

Dr. Ryan McKinnie

Dr. Ryan, McKinnie is a Ph.D. Chemist and researcher with over eight years of successful experience in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry and Cannabinoid Chemistry study and commercialization. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of New Orleans in 2014. Four years later, after writing his dissertation, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Synthetic Cannabinoids and their Primary Metabolites, Dr. McKinnie graduated with a 4.0 GPA, in the top 1% of his class earning his Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry also from the University of New Orleans. His dissertation focused on the development of tests to determine the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in the human body via analysis of mass spectrometry fragmentation patterns. That research led to a library that is accessible to forensic chemists looking to determine if synthetic cannabinoids are present in the samples sent to their labs.

COVID-19 Project

Dr. McKinnie is currently on an advisory board for a coalition of Indiana based companies that are working together to develop a single-use test strip that will provide rapid analysis of COVID-19 antibodies in blood samples taken by patients. This project is being directly funded by the state of Indiana and the governor’s office.

These test strips can be administered from home by the patients themselves with results available in 15 minutes. The patient will use a lancet similar to the type used by diabetics to prick their finger. They will then take the resultant blood via a capillary and place it onto the test strip that is located inside a plastic cassette. To this blood sample, they will add several drops of a buffer solution that causes lysis in red blood cells and carries the sample through a lateral flow test paper. This test paper is impregnated with anti-human immunoglobulin G monoclonal antibodies and anti-human immunoglobulin M monoclonal antibodies that will detect if these are present in the blood of the patient. These specific antibodies are present in patients that have contracted COVID-19 and a positive reading on either antibody line along with the control line and will indicate if the patient has contracted the disease.

This rapid result test can give people the ability to check for the virus at home rather than go to a healthcare provider for a nasal swab that then needs to be run through qPCR and wait several hours to days for results to come back. It is meant as a first-line check that, with a positive result, would mean that the patient could then seek professional medical treatment or confirmation of the positive result at a healthcare institution. This would reduce the current overcrowding of hospitals and healthcare facilities and allow for individuals that suspect they have the virus to get a quick, preliminary diagnosis without overburdening the healthcare system. It will also allow employers operating essential businesses and those that are undergoing phased reopenings to regularly screen their employees in order to cut down the potential spread of the virus in workplaces and allow those that contract the virus to quarantine before it spreads to the rest of the workforce. This would be one of the first available tests of its kind that is available to the general public and the first to be manufactured entirely in the USA.

Midwest/Southeast Conference of Forensic Scientists

In November 2019 both John Taylor and Dr. McKinnie spoke to the midwest/southeast conference of Forensic Scientists at the Commonwealth Extracts facility. Commonwealth Extracts was chosen as the Kentucky based hemp manufacturer to be visited by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the talk was for the forensic scientists to gain more insight about the hemp industry as a whole, testing differences in state and analytical laboratories, and testing methodologies. Afterward, John and Dr. McKinnie hosted a Q&A so the scientists could get a better understanding of these various topics and gain knowledge about the business and analysis of hemp samples from industry experts. These forensic scientists’ labs are currently tasked with regulatory work on samples from this emerging industry. Several collaborative opportunities have resulted from this conference as well, and several of the participants are still in regular contact asking for guidance in sample testing for the hemp/cannabis industry.

Cannabinoid isolation, purification, and product formulation

As head of Research and Development, Dr. McKinnie’s work at Commonwealth Extracts includes method development for the identification of cannabinoids using convergence chromatography. The isolation and purification of cannabinoids from crude hemp extract are achieved utilizing centrifugal partition chromatography and Δ-9-THC remediation from raw ingredients.

These techniques allow Dr. McKinnie to create custom cannabinoid profiles unique to client specifications. This gives Commonwealth Extracts the ability to improve product quality and formulations that work better for our client’s needs. Dr. McKinnie is an invaluable part of the CBD product development process. With his extensive background in cannabinoids, he assists with formulating different flavors, colors, fragrance and product combinations depending on our client’s desired market.

Rigorous analytical testing & safety protocols

As Chief Scientific Officer running the Analytical Laboratory, Dr. McKinnie is responsible for product testing and process development. Every batch is tested from the farm all the way to the finished product. Dr. McKinnie’s team conducts rigorous quality assurance checks and safety testing every step of the way.

Those results are backed by 3rd party scientific lab testing that produces a unique certificate of analysis for every batch of hemp extract. These COA reports provide an accurate picture of the exact potency and ingredients of every hemp-extracted product Commonwealth Extracts manufactures with 100% traceability all the way back to the field it was planted in.

Passion for making a difference

Dr. McKinnie didn’t just choose to get involved with cannabinoids and hemp extraction. He wanted to use his education to make the biggest impact possible on the community and the world. He knew it would take nearly twenty years and millions of dollars to bring a new drug to the market before it could help someone. Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are not well understood. The huge potential for use in ways that can help people is an opportunity that allows him to pursue those aspirations.

Cannabinoid Scientific Research and Acknowledgments


  • Member, American Chemical Society, 2014 to Current
  • Member, Alpha Chi Sigma, 2014 to Current
  • University of New Orleans
  • National Institute of Health
  • National Institute of Drug Abuse
  • Drug Enforcement Agency
  • Research Triangle Institute
  • University of Purdue
  • University of Indiana
  • University of Louisville
  • Sullivan University
  • Kentucky Department of Agriculture

Dr. McKinnie has published multiple papers surrounding the synthesis and biological evaluation of synthetic cannabinoids. He has conducted research in collaboration with the Research Triangle Institute that led to Phase I clinical trials on two synthetic cannabinoid metabolites with a patent currently pending. This work was published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Dr. McKinnie was also published in the Journal: Synthesis demonstrating the first synthetic route discovered for the synthesis of cannabinoid novel compounds. In addition, there are several scholarly articles Dr. McKinnie is currently collaborating on involving various research projects in medicinal chemistry.

During his time at the University of New Orleans, Dr. McKinnie taught Chemistry for seven years and was awarded multiple research presentation awards. He is often asked to speak and present his research to various legislative, scientific and educational audiences. Because of his extensive experience with cannabinoid synthesis, he has worked as a Scientific Consultant for multiple hemp and cannabis companies for several years before he joined the Commonwealth Extracts team in March 2018.

Synthetic cannabinoid hydroxypentyl metabolites retain efficacy at human cannabinoid receptors.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
by Ryan J. McKinnie, et. al.
in collaboration with Research Triangle Institute

Synthesis of the 5-fluoro-4-hydroxypentyl side chain metabolites of synthetic cannabinoids 5f-apinaca and cumyl-5f-pinaca.

by Ryan J. McKinnie, et. al.

Other Speaking Engagements

  • MJBizCon: December 2020 (Keynote)
  • Midwest/Southeast Association of Forensic Scientists: Discussion of Analytical Methodologies Utilized in the Hemp and Cannabis Markets (November 2019)
  • Gilson Purification: Scale Up of CPC for Purification of Hemp Derived Cannabinoids (October 2019, France)
  • American Chemical Society Annual Conference: Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Primary Metabolites Bearing an Indazole-3-Carboxamide Moeity (2018, New Orleans)
  • New Orleans High School Science Teachers: Synthetic Cannabinoids / Advances in the Hemp and Cannabis Industry (2018, New Orleans)
  • Faculty and Students from University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and LSU: Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Synthetic Cannabinoid Metabolites and their Potential as Opiod Replacements (2018, New Orleans)
  • Research Triangle Institute: Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Potential as Novel Pain Relieving Drugs (North Carolina, 2017)
  • Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI): Development and Practical Catalytic Applications of Gold-Embedded Halloysite Nanotubes (New Orleans, 2017)
  • Advanced Materials Research Institute (AMRI): Gold-Embedded Halloysite Nanotubes as an Efficient and Green Alternative for Hydrogenation Catalysis (New Orleans, 2016)
  • Tulane University: Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Primary Metabolites Show Promise for Treatment of Chronic Pain (New Orleans, 2016)
  • Louisiana State University: Synthetic Cannabinoids and Their Primary Metabolites Show Promise for Treatment of Chronic Pain (Baton Rouge, 2016)
  • University of New Orleans: Regioselective Hydroflourination of Epoxides via Novel Catalyst Offers Efficient Alternative to Dangerous Hydrofluoric Acid (New Orleans, 2016)
  • University of New Orleans: Analysis of Mass Spectrometry Fragmentation Patterns Allows Efficient Determination of Synthetic Cannabinoids in “Spice” Mixtures (New Orleans, 2015)