13th February 2018
Quality Control in the Growing Cannabis Market
As the Cannabis market grows for both medical and recreational use, so does the need for standardized quality control within the industry.
When it comes to Cannabis quality control there are many things to consider, from moisture content to pesticide use.
Cannabis flower moisture content should be tested and controlled to: minimize the risk of mold formation; control microbiological levels; ensure proper drying, curing and storage conditions; and support product shelf life. Some manufacturing processes for Cannabis products also require a certain water content in the starting material.
Terpenoids and Cannabinoids Analysis
The level of terpenoids and cannabinoids in the starting material determines the most suitable industrial processing method and which final cannabis product will be manufactured. This analysis is usually carried out using LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) or GC (Gas Chromatography). LC-MS and GC require a flow of inert gas such as hydrogen or nitrogen, both of which can be easily supplied via a gas generator. You can learn more about the Peak Scientific range of gas generators for GC & LC-MS here.
Pesticides and Herbicides
As with other agricultural crops and products intended for human consumption, Cannabis plants should be tested for herbicides and pesticides. Detecting pesticides and herbicides can be challenging due to the complexity of cannabis material. GCMS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) is usually used for this purpose.
Medical Cannabis is often used for HIV and cancer patients where the patient's immune system has been compromised. Therefore, high microbial levels or pathogenic micro-organisms could be life threatening. It is important then that several Mycotoxins and fungus types should be detected as part of cannabis quality control and release specifications.
Where solvents have been used as part of Cannabis product processing, solvent residuals in the final products should be tested to ensure that they meet the accepted criteria. The FDA has published the criteria for residual solvents in APIs for pharmaceutical use.
Like many other plants, Cannabis draws metals from the earth. It is therfore necessary to test for Mercury, Lead, Arsen and Cadmium.
Concentration ranges for cannabinoids such as THC,THCa, CBD, CBDa, CBN, CBC, CBG should match the ranges specified on the product label, based on product usage purpose, patient's medical condition, age etc. Cannabinoid concentrations can be tested using LC-MS (Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) and HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) . There are a wide range of Peak Scientific nitrogen gas generators designed specifically for LC-MS, available here.
Terpenes increase cannabinoids' therapeutic effects and are known to have their own health benefits, they also contribute to Cannabis taste and aroma. They can be detected using GC.
Taking all of the above into account, it is clear that there is a necessity for standarized procedures for every step of the Cannabis analysis and testing process in order to guarantee safe use. The safest way to supply cannabis testing laboratories with gas for their LC-MS and GC is via gas generators, which do not present the health and safety risks associated with gas cylinders.
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