ARC SCIENTIFIC What is Mass Spectrometry?
April 24, 2020
Toxicology
May 18, 2020

Cannabis Testing

With great speed, cannabis is making its way to mainstream. With that attention…comes guidelines to ensure the production of quality stuff. Just like in the auto industry, Quality Standards, such as FOCUS are already making their way into the oversight of cannabis production for mass consumption. And, it is the wave of whats to come. 

With these standards comes the necessity to test that quality. Whether detecting pesticides, heavy metals, terpenes, or strain potency, the use of scientific instruments is becoming the norm. 

Pesticide Testing 

Green is King. People are starting to wake up to the fact that what is put into their bodies matters. This, of course, applies to weed as well. In order to stamp out harmful pesticide and perhaps garner an Organic stamp of approval, Cannabis needs to get tested. 

Triple-Quadrupole LC-MS/MS is used in labs to detect pesticides in cannabis. Pesticides can include – herbicides, fungicides, disinfectants, and insecticides. 

This instrument is highly sensitive. Those concerned with the potential of contracting Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), which affects the respiratory system and some link to pesticide inhalation, specifically through cannabis inhalation, would test for pesticides using LC-MS. 

To read more on how Triple-Quadruple LC-MS is used in the Cannabis industry, click here.

Find your LC-MS supply here. 

Cannabis Heavy Metals

According to Perkin Elmer, linked here “Harmful toxic elements can be absorbed into cannabis plants primarily through uptake from the soil, water, and fertilizer.” In order to detect these trace metals in cannabis, ICP-MS is used. Metals such as  Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, and Cadmium, can be quantified in a cannabis lab using an ICP-MS.

Available ICP-MS unit at Arc Scientific.

Cannabis Terpenes

What is a Terpene? When you walk past an area where cannabis is being smoked, whether a puff cloud is still present or not, there is a lasting smell. Sometimes it’s skunky, sometimes its sweet. The smell variance between strains comes in part from terpenes present in cannabis. Terpenes are aromatic oils secreted from the plant just like THC and CBD that control flavors in cannabis. Flavors such as mint, berry, or pine. Over 100 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. 

For plant functions, these terpenes help to detract predators and attract pollinators. For human functions, terpenes contribute to the varying effects of weed; such as relaxation and stress-relief vs. focus and elation. 

To test the terpene content in a particular strain, cannabis labs use  instruments called GC and GC-MS.

GC is the industry-standard for lab testing of terpenes and residual solvents. GC also measures cannabinoids. GC-MS is a step up in selectivity and sensitivity, useful to detect certain halogenated solvents, or to break apart a larger terpenes. To see all the GC’s, click Arc Scientifics supply.

Cannabinoids/Potency

Cannabis cultivation as an industry…is growing. Amidst that growth has led to the importance of quality control. Patient, grower, and client alike care about strain and potency. 

To prove the quality of a cannabis strain, its THC and CBD content and potency is tested. This can easily be done in a lab using a piece of equipment called an HPLC. This instrument is used in order to isolate cannabinoids, which is an essential function in detecting strain and potency of THC and CBD, for example. 

To see a variety of HPLC models, click here at Arc Scientific.

Finally

Quality has been important to professional growers for some time, but now that growing is headed mainstream, its importance takes in a different hue and intensity. Regulations on quality are the a main stay in all the big industries and Cannabis will be no different. To prove their product meets and exceeds standards, commercial and smaller growers the like will implement scientific testing.