Editorial Team   |   August 16, 2017

Cannabis Testing Solutions: Development of Safety and Quality Standards for the Emerging Cannabis Market

Cannabis testing has become a much-needed industry solution for growers and producers nationwide. The recent wave of looser and more exploratory cannabis laws has reinvigorated an emerging multi-billion-dollar commerce and as such, stronger quality control and quality assurance tests make sure that only the best, highest quality cannabis is out in the market.
Our CannabisTech writers come from a wide variety of backgrounds with a passion for cannabis and technology, matched only by their desire to educate the world about the cannabis industry.

Cannabis testing has become a much-needed industry solution for growers and producers nationwide. The recent wave of looser and more exploratory cannabis laws has reinvigorated an emerging multi-billion-dollar commerce and as such, stronger quality control and quality assurance tests make sure that only the best, highest quality cannabis is out in the market.

Though it is a popular misconception that most of the cannabis industry thrives through home growers and enthusiasts, the reality is that the cannabis commercial industry as a whole – a 6.4 Billion USD industry, lives through the efforts of expansive, high level manufacturers with state of the art production facilities with research and development resources. Testing solutions are there to safeguard us from the possible harmful effects of pesticides and the potency of cannabis derived products.

Premiere analytical laboratory testing facilities are there to protect public health and they have a myriad of ways of doing so through their cannabis testing services. Among their primary tests is the potency test that checks for the types of cannabinoids present within different strains of the cannabis plant. As there are more than a hundred cannabinoids present in every plant, careful potency checks are performed to meet different types of standards across the cannabis industry as a whole.

Cannabis growers have different requirements for their products and routine checks through the potency test ensure that the product is uniform across all products each time, every time. This test includes the quantitative analysis of the 10 most commonly requested cannabinoids in the cannabis plant in the shortest amount of time. Through instrumentation, growers can get a simple analysis up to a full baseline resolution for all the compounds in mere minutes, be it for research, medical or recreational uses.

 

 

Beyond the potency test, cannabis testing also includes what is classified as the Terpene Profiling. In this stage, the terpenes – byproducts in the plants’ trichomes that gives each cannabis strain its distinguishable flavor and aroma, are identified and classified into the more than 3,000 flavors and fragrance compounds. Each cannabis grower has specific needs for flavor notes and aroma that they would want to channel into their products.

One of the biggest reason that cannabis production has become an emerging industry is due to customers’ growing health concerns and their search for alternative solutions that cannabis is known to provide. Because of this, pesticide screening is a must-do to make sure that the safety of the public is taken care of.

Many pesticides used to kill insect infestations in cannabis and plants in general are highly carcinogenic and mutagenic and may cause harm to the cannabis consumers, especially the immune-compromised patients utilizing medicinal cannabis. Instrumentation such as Liquid Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) is useful to detect even the lowest levels of chemical presence of pesticide compounds and residue, creating a highly safe product that is fit for the public’s consumption.

 

Cannabis testing is not limited to simply safety checks and potency checks for the product as a whole. Holistic testing is employed by many cannabis cultivators to confirm elements that can affect both the quality and safety of their cannabis products. Some of the other important analyses include residual solvent quantification, heavy metals testing, moisture content and precision weighing and mycotoxin analysis – all done for reiterating product safety standards across a manufacturer’s line.

Residual solvents are tested to confirm that the product is free from harmful chemicals as solvents in the form of oils and waxes in high concentrations are potentially detrimental to a person’s health. Heavy metal testing, on the other hand, confirms through several instrumentation methods such as the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) that the cannabis is free from toxic heavy metals found in soils and fertilizers such as arsenic, mercury, lead and cadmium.

Dried cannabis, one of the more common forms of cannabis commonly used in many of its applications, needs an absolute 10 to 12% moisture content to have optimum quality, otherwise it may lead to mold growth. The importance of moisture content and precision weighing ensures only the best forms of the product is out on the market. Likewise, analysis of mycotoxins such as molds are typically performed to check long term quality of cannabis. Due to its propensity to have higher moisture content than most plants, mycotoxin testing in cannabis is a safety standard to avoid compromising consumer health.

 

As with any natural product that concentrates on consumer health and safety, cannabis testing and analysis is a must for every manufacturer. A standard quality control lab not only helps you in making sure that every shred of cannabis product that comes out of your plants is safe but also keeps you on the cutting edge of cannabis research. More and more applications are being detected each passing day and it will only be a matter of time until the cannabis market grows to levels unseen in any decade. With this in mind, the science of cannabis and cannabis safety is expected to have benchmarks for the gold standard level of quality that will not only benefit cultivators and producers but the consuming public as well.

 

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