The Need for Standardization

Cannabis plants and their products show promise as a pharmacotherapy for multiple human conditions. The concentration of compounds in Cannabis extracts depend on tissue-type/strain, age, variety, growth conditions (nutrition, humidity and light levels), harvest time, preparation methods, and storage conditions.  The accurate and consistent measurement of these constituents, their interactions and potency is paramount in the determination of their medicinal effectiveness and side effects.

Cannabis analysis

cannabis analysis

Why is it difficult to measure the chemical constituents in Cannabis

The large number of chemical constituents (over 100 cannabinoids) in Cannabis or hemp means that many compounds will co-elute making separation and identification difficult.  Secondly Cannabis matrices differ greatly (flower, pollen, cannabis infused products, oils, edibles etc.) and variations in the amounts and numbers of constituents require normalization to ensure comparable, accurate results.

Unless internal standards are employed measurements will only be qualitative (not quantitative) due to the inherent inefficiencies of all Mass Spectrometers.  Defining and procuring a precise set of complex internal standards is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Current Methods of Cannabis Analysis and Testing

The most accurate approach to identify and assess components of Cannabis-based products is metabolomics or metabolic profiling (the measurement of metabolites or biochemicals) using Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS, or LC-MS/MS).  Metabolic profiling measures the entire profile of compounds in a product as well as the metabolites and byproducts seen in human samples (i.e. saliva, blood, urine) following Cannabis ingestion.

“Potency” is generally defined by the percentage of THC and or CBD (cannabidiol) in the plant material but at least 15 additional cannabinoids are routinely monitored including THCA (delta-9-tetrahydrocannbinolic) acid, CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), and CBN (cannabinol).  Current methods for potency testing rely on the preparation of a calibration curve of unlabeled standards many of which lack plant matrix components against which to assess specific Cannabis compounds.  These measurements are generally less expensive than the use of labeled plant internal standards, but they are less accurate, limited, and require more time and effort.


cannabis analysis

How IROA Cannabis Analysis can help

The TruQuant Cannabis Internal Standard (CIS) is an isotopically labeled cannabis extract containing 100s of compounds.

CIS corrects for all major sources of error including suppression and all forms of ionization inefficiencies, as well as normalizes samples (corrects for inherent sample variations, e.g.  from dilution, or size).

Additionally, the measurement system provides unique and completely verifiable identification of each compound, differentiates noise from true biological data (removing false data), provides trackable QA/QC for all instrumentation and is mappable across diverse instruments and analytical protocols. Comparisons may be made across laboratories or instruments, even if measurements are made using very different methodologies.

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