It’s not all rope and leaves: cannabis analysis 101

Apr 13, 2021 | Blogs, Environmental / Industrial | 0 comments

Read time: 4 minutes

Introduction to cannabis: analysis

Cannabis is a broad umbrella of classification that includes both hemp and marijuana. Check out a recent blog that lays out the definitions. This blog will focus on the common criteria we look at when conducting cannabis testing, including potency, pesticides and mycotoxins.

Potency: how do you test for it?

Based on individual state regulatory requirements in the US, the potency of commercial cannabis products must be reported. The percentage of THC is printed on cannabis product labels after being certified by a licensed cannabis testing facility. The methodology for obtaining cannabis potency values can vary based on the analytical technique and instrumentation used, which gives testing facilities options for customizing or streamlining their workflows. While marijuana potency testing can vary, hemp analysis has to be accurate, or the crop is considered cannabis and subject to federal confiscation and fines. The US, however, lacks standardized methods to assess products for potency and safety. That’s a big problem for the labs that are tasked with doing the testing. There have been many challenges in the uniformity of potency results across testing sites. Some manufacturers will go to the lab that gives them the highest potency results. Pesticides, mycotoxins and terpenes, oh my!

As states in the US struggle to set standards for testing, both consumers and retailers are becoming increasingly discerning. Because of the variability and diversity of the matrix composition of samples—which can include cannabinoids, terpenes, sugars, fatty acids and more—analyzing cannabis and hemp for pesticides can be daunting. This is especially true for high-throughput cannabis and hemp residue testing. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out our tips and tricks for pesticide residue analysis in cannabis. Stay tuned for more blogs and information on the analysis of cannabis and hemp.


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Senior Applications Scientist, SCIEX. Diana Tran specializes in LC-MS/MS method development as an applications scientist at SCIEX. For the past 4 years, she has been actively involved in cannabis testing analysis and has had a hand in almost every cannabis method developed at SCIEX since then. Diana has been field tested in testing labs across the US, making connections in cannabis testing labs and acting as a resource for analytical chemists. She is always looking for new cannabuds—feel free to reach out and start a conversation.



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