Analytical Services

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

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

  • ∆9-THC
  • THCA
  • CBD
  • CBDA
  • CBN
  • CBG
  • CBGA
  • ∆8-THC
  • THCV
  • CBC
  • CBDV

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

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

  • ∆9-THC
  • THCA
  • CBD
  • CBDA
  • CBN
  • CBG
  • CBGA
  • ∆8-THC
  • THCV
  • CBC
  • CBDV

Terpene Profiling


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

  • (-)-Guaiol
  • (-)-beta-Pinene
  • (-)-Caryophyllene oxide
  • (-)-Isopulegol
  • alpha-(-)-Bisabolol
  • alpha-Humulene
  • alpha-Ocimene
  • alpha-Pinene
  • alpha-Terpinene
  • beta-Caryophyllene
  • beta-Myrcene
  • beta-Ocimene
  • Camphene
  • cis-Nerolidol
  • delta-3-Carene
  • d-Limonene
  • Eucalyptol
  • gamma-Terpinene
  • Geraniol
  • Linalool
  • Pcymene
  • Terpino-lene
  • trans-Erolidol

If you’d like to test for additional terpenes, we can create a custom analysis to meet your needs.

Pesticide Screening


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

  • Aldicarb
  • Carbofuran
  • Chlordane
  • Chlorfenapyr
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Coumaphos
  • Daminozide
  • DDVP (dichlorvos)
  • Dimethoate
  • Ethoprop(hos)
  • Etofenprox
  • Fenoxycarb
  • Fipronil
  • Imazalil
  • Methiocarb
  • Methyl Parathion
  • Mevinphos
  • Paclobutrazol
  • Propoxur
  • Spiroxamine
  • Thiacloprid

Category 2 Pesticides

  • Abamectin
  • Acephate
  • Acequinocyl
  • Acetamiprid
  • Azoxystrobin
  • Bifenazate
  • Bifenthrin
  • Boscalid
  • Captan
  • Carbaryl
  • Chlorantraniliprole
  • Clofentezine
  • Cyfluthrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Diazinon
  • Dimethomorph
  • Etoxazole
  • Fenhexamid
  • Fenpyroximate
  • Flonicamid
  • Fludioxonil
  • Hexythiazox
  • Imidacloprid
  • Kresoxim-methyl
  • Malathion
  • Metalaxyl
  • Methomyl
  • Myclobutanil
  • Naled
  • Oxamyl
  • Pentachloronitro benzene
  • Permethrin
  • Phosmet
  • Piperonyl Butoxide
  • Prallethrin
  • Propiconazole
  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyridaben
  • Spinetoram
  • Spinosad
  • Spiromesifen
  • Spirotetramat
  • Tebuconazole
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Trif

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:

  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Mercury

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
  • Benzene
  • Chloroform
  • Ethylene Oxide
  • Methylene Chloride
  • Trichloroethylene

Category 2 Solvents

  • Acetone
  • Acetonitrile
  • Butane
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl Ether
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Heptane
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Methanol
  • Pentane
  • Propane
  • Toluene
  • 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


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
  • Salmonella
  • 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 test available upon request

*We Currently Offer Custom Plating For:

  • Aerobic Bacteria (APC)
  • Coliform
  • 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.

Mycotoxin Testing


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

Water Activity


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). 

Gender Identification


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. 

Hemp Testing


If you are a registered hemp cultivator in the state of California, the California Department of Food and Agricultural requires potency testing for industrial hemp crops 30 days prior to harvest to determine total THC levels are at or below o.3%.  We are an approved industrial hemp testing facility for San Diego, Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Kern, and Lake counties and can conduct both quality assurance and compliance testing for your harvest. 

How We Conduct CDFA Testing

Once a registrant’s pre-harvest report is collected by their county’s agricultural department within 30 days of the expected harvest date, we can either send an experienced sample technician to the cultivation location to collect a representative sample OR the county will assign a representative to sample and send to the lab. Sampling options depend on each county’s preference. During sampling, the sampling technician will pull from at least 5 different plants throughout the field, depending on the field size. The tech will take one 18 in branch from the top 1/3rd of the plant, and one 18 inch branch from the bottom 1/3rd – if the plant is less than 18 inches tall, the tech is required to pull the entire plant. The registrant must supervise the sampling and sign a chain of custody form once sampling is completed. Once the representative sample arrives at our lab, they are placed in an air-circulating oven and dried at 77 degrees celsius until the weight of the sample remains the same between drying intervals. Moisture will typically fall between 12- 6%. The sample, including all leaves, branches and flowers, is then homogenized into a fine powder using a cryogrinder. We collect the amount required for a potency analysis from this powder, prep the sample, and use ultra high performance liquid chromatography coupled with a diode array detector (UHPLC-DAD) to determine 11 different cannabinoid levels within the sample. This analysis not only covers the total THC content required by the county, but also total CBD, CBDA, CBN, CBG, CBGA, d8-THC, THCV, CBC, and CBDV. Turnaround time for CDFA testing is 2-3 days. Due to the time required to dry these larger samples, we unfortunately cannot expedite this test. Once testing has been completed, we will send a PDF copy of the Certificate of Analysis to the registrant’s county ag department along with all required paperwork.

Pre-CDFA Testing

If a registrant is interested in better understanding the rate of THC and CBD production in their field prior to state testing, we also offer a pre-cdfa analysis that follows the same specifications required for the official test. We advise clients to begin quality assurance testing 4-5 weeks into flowering to monitor THC levels and minimize the risk of the crop exceeding o.3% prior to CDFA testing. Registrants are welcome to submit wet hemp samples anytime during their growth cycle for analysis. For this quality assurance test, we recommend registrants submit a sample replicating the CDFA requirements:

  • One 18″ branch from the top 1/3rd of the plant
  • One 18″ branch from the bottom 1/3rd
  • Sample from at least 5 plants from different areas of the cultivation site
  • If plants are less than 18″ tall, submit the whole plant for testing

We strongly advise non-local clients to utilize our free quality assurance pick-up service when submitting wet hemp samples for analysis. Samples sent via courier may mold in transit. If samples are sent via courier, please package in paper bags and include a few desiccant packs in the package to absorb extra moisture.

More Information:

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If you’d like to have an analyte tested that isn’t included in our standard analyses, please contact the lab about creating a custom analysis to fit your needs.

Quality Assurance

All quality assurance results are informational only. For information on certified testing please call the lab at (858) 623-2740.

Our Standard

We currently follow activity levels based on the most current regulations set forth by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

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