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. 19-20 of the MRA Regulations.

Moisture Content

Moisture content directly affects potency levels. The MRA 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)

Michigan requires that moisture content is below 15%.

Cannabinoids We Test For

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

* Included in expanded potency analysis

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. 19-20 of the MRA Regulations.

Moisture Content

Moisture content directly affects potency levels. The MRA 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)

Michigan requires that moisture content is below 15%.

Cannabinoids We Test For

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

* Included in expanded potency analysis

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. 20 of the MRA 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

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 MRA requires that all cannabis products sold for consumption be screened for both Category 1 & 2 pesticides. A product can have only trace amounts of Category 2 pesticides.

How We Screen For Pesticides

We use Liquid Chromatography Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and Gas Chromatography Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) to analyze the required 58 pesticide levels within a sample. For more information on pesticide testing, including the action level of each analyte tested, please refer to pg. 20-22 of the MRA 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
  • Trifloxystrobin

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. 23 of the MRA 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 Michigan Marijuana Regulation Agency 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-GCMS) to quantify the 20 solvents required by the MRA. For more information on residual solvent testing, including the action level of each analyte, please refer to pg. 22 of the MRA 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-)
 

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, pathogenic Aspergillus species, total coliform count, yeast, and mold all required under  page 25 of MRA Regulations.

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 then can estimate the total bacterial cell concentration within a sample. We use this method to test for yeast and mold, E. Coli, and Coliform count.

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 STEC, a minimum of 18 hours is needed, while the mold Aspergillus needs at least full 24 hours before testing can begin. The reason for the incubation period is to give the microbes enough time to grow and replicate because a single microbe on a sample does not yield enough DNA for any machine 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 Standard Tests For Microbial Detection Of:

  • STEC E. Coli
  • Salmonella
  • 4 Strains of Aspergillus (A. Flavus, A. Fumigatus, A. Niger, & A. Terreus)
  • Coliform
  • Yeast and Mold

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.  MRA regulations state that mycotoxins do not need to be tested for compliance unless requested by the department.

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 MRA. 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. 24-25 of the MRA 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. 23-24 of the MRA 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).

More Information:

Find what you're looking for?

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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