As the legalization of marijuana/cannabis continues across the United States, there is a clear need for simple and efficient analytical lab testing. This includes testing for contaminants, potency, and determination of terpene identity and concentration levels present in different strains of cannabis.

Terpenes can be found in a variety of plants and are responsible for their unique aromas. Due to the increase in legalization of medical marijuana there has been enhanced interest in terpenes and their therapeutic properties. Since terpenes are both volatile and semi-volatile, it can be difficult to quantify the amount of terpene in the plant. Using Solid Phase Micro Extraction (SPME) a quantitative determination of terpenes will be established 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 marijuana 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’s Flex Robotic Sampling Platform is used with GC/MS to quantitate terpenes using headspace combined with Solid Phase Micro Extraction.