As cannabis consumption increases, consumers must understand how different products, concentrations, and brands affect them.
Learning the importance of cannabinoid potency testing ensures that consumers get a predictable experience.
Educated cannabis consumers appreciate the importance of potency in determining the levels of THC and CBD in various cannabis products and brands.
There is emerging regulation in cannabis markets.
For this reason, legal retailers and producers conduct different laboratory testing procedures to accurately and efficiently determine potency and thus provide correct THC and CBD information on product labels that will help consumers get the desired effect they want.
Why is the testing of cannabinoids necessary?
Growers want to know how potent their product is because the chemical compounds’ composition can primarily affect their end product’s value and expected selling price.
Various tests offer different values, amounts, and costs because they can relate to the potential of the concentration of cannabinoids and also potentially the terpene profile present.
What are other cannabis testing techniques?
Although testing for potency is necessary, it is not the only cannabinoid test conducted in the labs.
There are other laboratory testing techniques, including microbial, mycotoxin, and heavy metal testing.
These tests are all crucial as far as looking at the potential benefits of cannabis.
The synergistic interactions between cannabinoids and other chemicals may be the cause of medical impacts for an individual.
This is why it is essential to test for potency, not just to claim the highest numbers.
Cannabis testing and the pharmaceutical testing practices
Potency tests help determine the levels of CBD and THC in cannabis products.
One of the fastest techniques to leverage is gas chromatography coupled with a flame ionization detector, GC-FID.
The technique makes use of liquid samples.
The sample is vaporized, separating the cannabinoids into distinct parts within a chemical affinity column.
After separation, the compounds pass through a flame that ionizes the cannabinoids.
Afterwards, an electrode quantifies the cannabinoids present by measuring the specific current produced when the compounds pass through the detector.
The use of HPLC in potency testing for cannabis products
The most common procedure to measure cannabinoid potency is (HPLC) high-pressure liquid chromatography using a photodiode array detector.
Steps involved when operating an HPLC machine include:
- Extraction of the flower.
You will need to transfer the flower into a solvent to extract the cannabinoids from it.
After crushing the flower, weigh 200 mg and add a solvent to it.
After the extraction solvent is added, it takes about 15 minutes for the cannabinoids to extract into the solvent, which happens at room temperature.
After extracting the cannabinoids, you need to dilute them a little bit to increase their concentration.
You will take a small portion of the extract and transfer it into a different vial with another solvent.
The diluted extract is then ready for injection into the HPLC.
It is common to dilute the plant extracts into 100-1000-fold or more to reduce the concentration of targeted cannabinoids for appropriate analytical, quantitative determination.
That means cannabis to other pharmaceutical products is relatively concentrated, requiring it to be diluted down to perform with some of the proper analytical tests.
Ensure that the HPLC device is running.
Next, inject the extract into the injector at the front of the machine and wait.
During this process, the solution with the cannabinoids is pushed through the HPLC column.
It separates into individual cannabinoids, and each is presented by a peak, which you can see in the software.
The entire analysis takes 13 minutes.
- Data export and reports
The data window is simplified with the software determining which peak belongs to which cannabinoid.
Also, you do not have to store the file because your software should autosave all your data.
The only thing you need to do is to export the data into Excel to generate the reports.
In the same way, you test the flower, you can test for oils, different concentrates, or products and do quality control.
It is crucial to read your cannabis product label to appreciate the potency levels included.
If you have any questions about cannabinoid potency testing, contact your trusted lab.