Cannabinoid Potency Testing
Our cannabinoid potency test provides quantitative information on the active cannabinoids present in a sample. The term “Cannabinoids” originally referred to a class of oxygen containing aromatic compounds which contained 21 carbons that were produced by Cannabis sativa. Now cannabinoids have a broader definition referred to as phytocannabinoids. This includes the original compounds as well as anything that is similar in structure (including synthetic cannabinoids created in labs).
How We Test For Cannabinoids
We test for cannabinoids using Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography (UHPLC), which separates the cannabinoids and other organic molecules on a column based on interactions with the stationary phase. They then flow through a diode array detector (DAD) which examines parts of the UV-Visible spectrum where the organic compound absorbs light. Depending on the intensity of the absorption, we can analyze the concentration of the cannabinoids present. For more information about cannabinoid potency testing, please refer to pg. 113-114 of the BCC Regulations.
Moisture content directly affects potency levels. The BCC requires potency to be adjusted to reflect moisture content for cannabis flower, resulting in a dry-weight percent. The following equation is used to adjust for moisture content:
Dry-weight percent cannabinoid = wet-weight percent cannabinoid / (1 − percent moisture / 100)
Cannabinoids We Test For
Terpenes are naturally existing small organic molecules produced by a wide variety of plants. Terpenes (as well as flavonoids) influence the aroma and flavor of these plants, including cannabis. Over 100 terpenes have been detected in cannabis, resulting in countless combinations of smells and flavors.
How We Test For Terpenes
We test for the most common cannabis terpenes using Headspace Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (HS-GCMS), enabling us to extract and identify each terpene found in a sample. For more information about terpene testing, please refer to pg. 114 of the BCC Regulations.
Terpenes We Currently Test For
- (-)-Caryophyllene oxide
If you’d like to test for additional terpenes, we can create a custom analysis to meet your needs.
Consumer safety is our number one concern. Because pesticides are used in the cultivation of cannabis and hemp, they need to be tested for in every product. The BCC requires that all cannabis products sold for consumption be screened for both Category 1 & 2 pesticides. A product can not have any amount of a Category 1 pesticide, and can have only trace amounts of Category 2 pesticides.
How We Screen For Pesticides
We use Liquid Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (LCMS) and Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) to analyze the required 66 pesticide levels within a sample. For more information on pesticide testing, including the action level of each analyte tested, please refer to pg. 107-110 of the BCC Regulations.
Pesticides We Screen For:
Category 1 Pesticides
- DDVP (dichlorvos)
- Methyl Parathion
Category 2 Pesticides
- Pentachloronitro benzene
- Piperonyl Butoxide
Heavy Metal Testing
Heavy metals are associated with serious adverse health effects in humans, ranging from birth defects to kidney disease or cancer. Cannabis plants are more susceptible to heavy metal contamination because they are in a unique class of hyperaccumulating plants that can tolerate uptake of significant levels of heavy metals from soil before their growth cycles are negatively affected. Thus heavy metal testing is vital to ensure consumer safety.
How We Test For Heavy Metals
We use a state-of-the-art technique called Inductively-Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to quantify for arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. ICP-MS is a highly sensitive technique that allows for detection of analytes at very low levels (e.g. ppt, sub-ppb). Typically a sample is first fully digested in a microwave apparatus, diluted, and then injected into the ICP-MS instrument. The sample is then ionized in an inductively-coupled plasma flame that reaches temperatures between 6,000K and 10,000K (comparable to temperatures on the Sun!). The resulting ions are separated and quantified by their mass-to-charge ratios (m/z) in a mass spectrometer. For more information on heavy metal testing, including the action level of each analyte tested, please refer to pg. 112 of the BCC Regulations.
Heavy Metals We Test For:
Residual Solvent Testing
There are dozens of different types of cannabis products, and a number of them require using some type of processing solvent during production. In general, the processing chemicals used to make most cannabis products are harmful when ingested or inhaled. Residual Solvent screening is the only way to ensure that these products are safe for consumption. This type of testing is mandated by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and is used in all major consumer product industries, ranging from medicine to candy.
How We Test For Residual Solvents
We use Headspace Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry (HS-GC-MS) to quantify the 20 solvents required by the BCC. For more information on residual solvent testing, including the action level of each analyte, please refer to pg. 106-107 of the BCC Regulations.
Solvents We Test For:
Category 1 Solvents
- 1,2- Dichloroethane
- Ethylene Oxide
- Methylene Chloride
Category 2 Solvents
- Ethyl Ether
- Ethyl Acetate
- Isopropyl Alcohol
- Total Xylenes (ortho-, meta-, para-)
If there are other solvents you’d like to test for that are not included in the standard Residual Solvents test, please contact us about conducting a custom analysis to meet your needs.
Microbial Testing is a vital component when it comes to ensuring any major consumer product is free of bacteria and mold that could potentially cause illness or disease. We test for Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), Salmonella, and pathogenic Aspergillus species, all required under BCC regulations (pg 122).
How We Test For Microbial Growth
We use two different methods to test for microbial growth:
The first method is plating, which allows us to identify the total colony forming units per gram of sample. We can then estimate the total bacterial cell concentration within a sample. We use this method to test for aerobic bacteria, yeast and mold, E. coli, and coliforms.
The second method involves quantitative polymerase chain reactions (qPCR) to determine the presence of harmful microbes within a sample. The process begins by adding a nutrient rich broth to the sample, making it the perfect living conditions for any microbes present to grow after an incubation period. For Salmonella and shiga toxin- producing E. coli (STEC), a minimum of 18 hours incubation is needed, while the mold, Aspergillus, needs at least a full 24 hours of incubation before testing can begin. These extended incubation periods give the microbes (if present) adequate time to grow and replicate to produce enough DNA for our instrument to detect. After the samples are brought out of the incubator, we use validated methods to begin DNA extraction from each sample. After DNA extraction is complete, each sample is set onto a plate that the qPCR instrument will read and use fluorescence to verify the status of each sample.
We Currently Offer qPCR Analyses For Microbial Detection Of:
- STEC E. Coli
- 4 Strains of Aspergillus (A. Flavus, A. Fumigatus, A. Niger, & A. Terreus)*
- Pseudomonas Aeruginosa**
- Staphylococcus Aureus**
* Included in Microbial Analysis for Inhalable Products
**Seperate qPCR analysis available upon request
*We Currently Offer Custom Plating For:
- Aerobic Bacteria (APC)
- STEC E. Coli
- Yeast & Mold
We also offer pH testing for samples already in aqueous solution.
*For more information on custom plating or to request an analysis, please contact your account representative
If a microbe you’d wish to have analyzed doesn’t fall into one of these categories, let us know and we can provide you a solution.
One of the most prominent dangers to consumers can come in the form of mycotoxins found on or in the cannabis plant and its extracts. Mycotoxins are a secondary metabolite produced by fungi and some molds that readily colonize crops and can cause major health issues for consumers.
How We Test For Mycotoxins
We use Liquid Chromatography with tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to test for four Aflatoxins and Ochratoxin A required by the BCC. For more information regarding mycotoxin testing, including the action level of each analyte tested, please refer to pg. 111 of the BCC Regulations.
Mycotoxins We Test For:
- Aflatoxin B1
- Aflatoxin B2
- Aflatoxin G1
- Aflatoxin G2
- Ochratoxin A
The measurement of water activity is a key parameter in the quality control of moisture sensitive products or materials. If there is too much water in a product, there is a risk of microbial growth and water migrations. This can lead to clumping, changes in consistency, and reduced shelf-life.
How We Test For Water Activity
We use a water activity probe to measure water activity for solid edible and packaged dried flower products as required by the BCC. Water activity is expressed as a decimal to reflect the ratio between the vapor pressure of the consumable itself, when in a completely undisturbed balance with the surrounding air media, and the vapor pressure of distilled water under identical conditions. For more information on water activity testing, including action levels, please refer to pg. 105-106 of the BCC Regulations.
Foreign Material Inspection
In order to ensure consumers are only purchasing clean products, the state requires that all cannabis samples be thoroughly inspected using a microscope and visual inspection for any filthy, putrid, or decomposing substances. This can include hair, insects, excreta, or any related adulterant that may be hazardous or cause illness or injury to the consumer.
For more information on foreign material inspections, please refer to pg. 111-112 of the BCC Regulations.
Vitamin E Acetate Testing
Amid the recent public health crisis involving vape products, our Vitamin E Acetate Test can determine the presence of this potentially harmful additive in cannabis and nicotine vape products.
Vitamin E Acetate is a popular diluent & thickener commonly found in illicit vape products. While Vitamin E acetate has been used in dietary supplementation and in the cosmetics industry for years, inhaling the lipid can cause serious lung injury. While there are currently no California regulations regarding testing for the diluent, we highly recommend running this test when sourcing your distillate to protect your consumers and enterprise.
How We Test For Vitamin E Acetate
We’ve established a fully validated method to test for vitamin E acetate using Liquid Chromatography Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS).
Just as humans have X and Y chromosomes, cannabis also has a system that determines the plant’s gender. However, figuring out genetically the gender of the plant is not as simple as looking for an X and Y. Luckily, the specific genetic sequence that differs between female and male plants has been long figured out, so using quantitative polymerase chain reactions (qPCR) allows anyone to determine the gender of any plants with 99% confidence.
How We Determine Gender
When a sample is brought in for the gender identification, qPCR analysis is used to determine if the plant is female or male. A small hole is cut out of the leaf of the plant and added to a lysis solution to destroy the plant cell walls, exposing the DNA. After isolation of the DNA, it is transferred to another plate that contains reagents to amplify and cause the sample to create a fluorescent light that our qPCR instrument then quantifies, and determines the gender of the sample based on the amount of fluorescence.
All quality assurance results are informational only. For information on certified testing please call the lab at (858) 623-2740.
We currently follow activity levels based on the most current regulations set forth by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.