The necessity for standardization in medical cannabis testing

There has been a move towards the legalization of cannabis for medical and/or recreational use across many countries and US states in recent years, leading to greater demand for accurate potency and safety testing. Despite this, there are currently no standardized regulations between states or countries for quality control including content, composition, adulterants, potency or levels of toxic residues. As such, in many cases where regulations are in place, testing is generally carried out at a small number of approved independent testing laboratories.

The need for self-regulation has led to the growth of portable gas chromatography (GC) being used in the field of cannabis testing.This insufficient clarity makes it problematic for consumers to create informed decisions in what they are purchasing, a concern that could be damaging to the industry’s changing reputation. Since it stands, makers of cannabis and cannabis-derived products can source goods with potentially hazardous contaminants such as for example fungi or pesticide residues, which are probably threatening to human overall health. Most cannabis goods sold legally in america must be analyzed and labelled for THC, the chemical substance responsible for almost all of cannabis’s psychoactive results. A US study discovered that only 20% of recreational cannabis products are effectively labelled with only 17% of products reviewed effectively labelled for THC articles (i.e. within 10% of the labeled benefit). In addition, it found 23% had been under labelled, and 60% were over labelled.

If cannabis were to be categorized as a regulated prescription, it will be rigorously tested to adhere to stringent regulations regarding top quality and safety of the merchandise, as are other drugs. On the other hand, as there happens to be no centralized regulatory human body that oversees this, the duty of top quality assurance falls to the grower, manufacturer and in some cases the consumer.

The Need for Cannabis Analysis

The most common requirement when testing cannabis is positive identification and quantification of the total THC:CBD ratio. In a highly competitive marketplace, this information is important, as cannabis consumers tend to equate THC levels with price. In many instances, lower THC products are cheaper and higher THC concentrations make products more expensive. Without robust systems in place for sufficient testing, this information cannot be accurately determined, meaning the customer often cannot make an informed decision.

Pesticide use is surprisingly common in the cannabis cultivation industry

In addition to potency testing, one of the core issues facing the industry and by extension, the end consumer, is the prevalence of pesticides in cannabis products. In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Environment and Wellness reported that over 90% of cannabis plants tested experienced pesticides on them. While actions have been taken to tackle this, the lack of cohesion in testing requirements combined with the onus on individual labs to carry out testing, has led to some issues within the industry.

Many individual retailers in the U.S. and internationally are self-testing for impurities such as pesticides, weighty metals and microbials. Since there is an apparent need for normal testing across all spots, the necessity for self-regulation at the moment has resulted in the growth of lightweight gas chromatography (GC) getting used in the discipline of cannabis testing.

Using GC seeing that an analytical tool

With the increased dependence on quality control and quality assurance in the generally unregulated cannabis industry, technology is currently more accessible to smaller companies also to people with reduced laboratory knowledge. There is a selection of cannabis testing plans available for smaller specific labs that offer a more mobile assessment with affordable plans. The lower entry selling price makes GC analysis cost-effective for extra laboratories while even now delivering reliable, top quality results.

Lightweight GC instruments may offer top quality potency testing, pesticide screening, terpene and flavor profiling, and residual solvents analysis. These instruments can provide growers and processors a precise consequence of cannabinoid percentages, a simple piece of data for growers and dispensaries. Systems could be configured for manual injection or a variety of autosampler options could be added.

The structure of cannabidiol (CBD), among 400 active compounds within cannabis.

GC permits the rapid and accurate identification and quantification of the THC:CBD ratio. That is very important to companies which are undertaking self-testing since it allows their clients to have assurances in the short term over the quality of their product, and also reducing any potential risks to public health.

An example of this in practice is the utilization of GC by Dutch company Shamanics which carries out testing support for coffee shops in the Netherlands. The company conducts terpene evaluation and potency screening to assure the quality of the products it materials, with a portable GC, which offers the flexibility required without any established recommendations on testing in place.

When screening for potency using the GC, they look for total THC and CBD by converting the acidified versions of the cannabinoids into neutral forms within the heat of the GC injector. The process has flexibility which implies that if they need to see both the acidified and neutral variations, they can do this by derivatizing the sample. The accuracy of this process is crucial to Shamanics and comparable companies within the industry so that they can accurately judge the caliber of something, and relay these details to retailers and buyers.

The continuing future of GC in standardized testing

While the growing option of lightweight GC instruments and the increasing sophistication of individual labs means extra companies have the ability to self-test products, now there is still a substantial hurdle to overcome regarding standardising and regulating both medical and recreational cannabis market segments. Where regulation is earned it should be regular across claims and countries & most importantly, it ought to be monitored and enforced. For the time being, responsible producers are employing the technology open to them to present buyers with guarantees that their cannabis goods are secure and of a top quality.

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