Cannabis Market and the Increased Demand for Testing

As of January 2020, there are now 13 states* that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. There are only 8 states where it is fully illegal. The cannabis industry has exploded. The country now has an -increasing number of legal cannabis producers and sellers.

More consumers are choosing to try cannabis for either medical and or recreational usage. As a result, there is more cannabis testing and growing oversight. This increase in demand comes with the need for cost effective, high quality and reliable cannabis testing

Cannabis testing in the United States includes testing for Contaminants, microbiology, pesticides, mycotoxins, residual solvents, and heavy metals. It also tests the profiling and content of the plant material including cannabinoids and terpenes. Consumers are demanding high quality testing to ensure product safety and compliance with state regulations.

Labs today can use head-space GC and solid phase extraction (SPE) techniques. One effective and quantitative option is solid phase micro extraction or SPME. It is a solvent free extraction technique for nearly any sample or matrix. SPME is directly interfaced with GC analysis. It’s non destructive to the sample and easily automated. SPME fibers are coated and can consist of polymer films (e.g. PDMS) and particles plus a binder (e.g. carbons and DVB in PDMS). There are several types of SPME fiber coatings.

Terpenes can be found in a variety of plants and are responsible for their unique aromas. Due to the increase in legalization of medical cannabis there has been enhanced interest in terpenes and their therapeutic properties. Cannabis contains greater than 100 different terpenes and terpenoids. Traditional test methods use solvent extraction and GC analysis. Since terpenes are both volatile and semi-volatile, it can be difficult to quantify the amount of terpene in the plant. Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) can be used as both a qualitative and a quantitative determination of terpenes and therefore can provide for a better terpene profile.

Terpenes are unsaturated hydrocarbons. They are usually found in plants and essential oils. Terpenes have been used for their therapeutic properties for years; they can also function to treat cancer, inflammation and viral and bacterial diseases among others. The amount and kind of terpene can have various effects on different ailments. High levels of myrcene produce relaxation; while pinene is used for memory and awareness. Lemony terpenes, on the other hand, are mood enhancers.

As terpenes are used for assorted ailments, the amount and composition of the terpenes can also be altered in order to produce optimum results. By understanding the terpene profiles, ailments can be treated more effectively, for this reason, the ability to accurately quantitate the terpene profiles of cannabis is very important.

There can be hundreds of different terpenes in one marijuana plant. Furthermore, terpenes have boiling points that can range from 150ºC to over 300ºC. Due to the range of boiling points in the assorted terpene compounds, it is difficult to quantify a range of terpenes using headspace alone. EST analytical can provide cost effective solutions for cannabis profile testing using GC/MS.