Kristina Etter   |   June 29, 2018

Portable Analyzers for Better Quality Assurance

Not only will large marijuana businesses be required to provide more data, the small, artisanal growers will need to as well.
Before becoming a freelance cannabis writer, Kristina Etter, spent 20 years in corporate information technology with companies including Maytag Appliances, Wells Fargo Financial, and DuPont Pioneer. With a niche in mobile technology and…

 

Although cannabis and hemp have been used for a wide-variety of purposes throughout history, research and science are slowly starting to isolate the compounds in marijuana and prove their medicinal efficiency. As the laws continue to change, these scientific discoveries, along with the standards and regulations which come with legalizing cannabis, are turning this once infamous herb into a legitimate and trusted source for health and wellness.

Additionally, as physicians, and consumers alike, continue to learn about the therapeutic potential of certain cannabinoids and terpenes, there is a rising demand for accurate profiling and potency reports. One thing is certain, there is no such thing as “too much data” in the world of cannabis production.

While not all cannabis producers can afford to add state of the art laboratory facilities, or the staff to manage them, like MedPharm Holdings in Denver, there are compact laboratory solutions which growers can see a quick return on their investment. Fortunately, companies like Orange Photonics out of New Hampshire make in-house potency testing a reality for many growers and producers across the nation.

 

Quality vs. Perceived Quality

While many cannabis producers can claim they have a quality product, only test results can prove the quality of this organic compound. Although a bud may look incredible, the only way to know what is inside is through qualified lab tests.

Although state regulations mandate third-party testing for all medical and recreational cannabis products, on-site laboratory capabilities allow producers a detailed view of what actually makes their product valuable… the compounds within it. Unfortunately, building out a laboratory is expensive and requires a full-time Ph.D. on staff to manage it. Portable analyzers, like Orange Photonics LightLab, allow growers and producers to integrate a wide variety of checkpoints to ensure a high-quality product every time.

 

Cultivation Improvements with In-House Testing

Many cannabis-centric businesses are using portable analyzers at various stages of production. At the cultivation facility, the ability to perform quality analysis onsite can provide invaluable data to improve quality and yields, as well as, pinpoint cultivars.

  • Tracking Cannabinoid Production – by testing the plant at various stages of growth, growers may be able to isolate certain cannabinoids like CBG which is known to be more prevalent in the early stages of growth. Tests can reveal optimal harvesting for peak potency of any cannabinoid.

  • Research and Development – master growers know even the slightest adjustment in any of the dozens of variables in a cannabis grow can impact cannabinoid and terpene expression. With a portable analyzer, growers can manipulate these variables and track the results for maximizing production.

  • Cultivar Selection – total cannabinoid content varies drastically between cultivars and batches. Using onsite testing, growers can make informed decisions to tailor cultivars to meet the goals of the business.

 

Producers and Extractors Also See Ample Benefits

Portable analyzers can also provide checks and balances to save producers time and money, too. In addition to mandated testing, onsite testing provides producers numerous ways to ensure quality while saving money in the long run.

  • Ensure Quality Raw Materials – a final cannabis extract is only as good as the starting material. Typically, producers buy trim and then test it for content. With a portable analyzer, producers can test product onsite, receiving results within about 15 minutes, so they can determine quality product before they purchase.

  • Total Cannabinoid Extraction – after an extraction, there is a possibility some cannabinoid content may remain in the waste material, which means producers may be potentially wasting valuable product. In-house analysis allows extractors to verify a complete extraction with little to no product loss.

  • Quality Assurance – when extractors have the ability to run lab-grade tests onsite and get immediate results, producers can ensure each batch meets quality standards during production. No more waiting for the results from the mandated tests.

 

Portable Analyzers for Affordable, Trustworthy Results

Depending on the needs of the business, reliable test results may be more affordable than one would think. Regardless of the size of the business, these portable analyzers can provide a quick return on the investment and invaluable data for decision makers.

Orange Photonics LightLab

Astonishingly, the LightLab borrowed technology from the Mars Rover to create a compact, high-tech HPLC designed to fit inside OrangePhotonic’s iconic, bright orange industrial case. The device uses liquid chromatography with spectroscopy to separate and measure the compounds in the plant. LightLab reports data for the six major cannabinoids including THC/THCa, CBD/CBDa, CBN, and CBG in just 10 minutes.

 

“Knowing what you’re putting into your machine and what you’re purchasing is of great value,” Dylan Wilks, CEO of Orange Photonics stated during a phone interview. He also mentioned, advanced testing ability is just around the corner. Wilks stated, “We have exciting advances being tested now to incorporate more of the minor cannabinoids and terpenes into LightLab.”

As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of OrangePhotonic’s LightLab is the ease of use. There’s no need to have a full-time Ph.D. to run product analysis because LightLab makes the process simple for anyone on your staff. With an initial investment of $13,000 and a little staff training, this device can provide accurate test results which fall within 2-3% of qualified lab results. In fact, LightLab touts a repeatability of +/- 1%.

GemmaCert

If budget constraints prevent any large investments, then GemmaCert may provide a beneficial stepping stone. Priced at just $2500, this small, countertop analyzer provides an economical and quick potency analysis option. This unique device combines spectrometry, image analysis, and data analytics to measure the composition and potency of cannabis products.

Using dried flower or a cannabis extract, optical sensors within the machine scan the product and display total THC and CBD content within 60 seconds on a paired smartphone. The raw material will not be harmed or altered in any way. The GemmaCert device may even be appropriate for cannabis patients or home growers who want to test their own products at home.

As physician and consumer knowledge of cannabis and the compounds contained within it continue to rise, testing will continue to be a growing necessity for cannabis cultivators and producers. Not only will large, marijuana giants be required to provide more data, the small, artisanal growers and dispensaries will also need to invest in their ability to ensure quality cannabis products. Portable analyzers like LightLab from Orange Photonics and GemmaCert provide affordable solutions regardless of the size of the producer.

 

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