Compliance & Legal Frameworks in Cannabis Testing Market

According to Inkwood Research, the global cannabis testing market is estimated to rise at a CAGR of 13.32% over the forecast period 2024 to 2032. Scientists and government organizations are establishing testing procedures and regulations in account of the decriminalization of cannabis in many states and nations. 

Further, the legislative support for cannabis reform has escalated. This is due to the widespread knowledge of the effects that cannabis and its derivatives have, both physically and mentally. The strict laws are in place in states where marijuana has been approved for either medical or recreational use. These laws guarantee the safety of marijuana and its derivatives.

Safety is one of the main worries of a cannabis testing lab. The known contaminants found in cannabis include heavy metals, pesticides, leftover solvents, and mycotoxins. Furthermore, in order to assess potency and purity, it’s frequently essential to verify strain and conduct terpene and cannabinoid tests.

Cannabis Testing Market - Inkwood Research

Standards & Procedures: Cannabis Testing Market

A cannabis testing facility needs to ensure adherence to guidelines, standards, approved methods, and a documented quality system. Quality control is the responsibility of cannabis testing labs. When cannabis and cannabis-derived products are bought from a licensed facility, samples undergo a battery of tests. These tests check for different elements that affect the product’s safety and quality.

The majority of cannabis testing facilities adhere to the ‘General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories’ found in ISO/IEC 17025:2017. Some cannabis facilities go above and beyond by adhering to ASTM and AOAC International standards. Every cannabis testing facility must possess up-to-date, sensitive analytical equipment and employ skilled technicians and analysts trained in all testing techniques.

While cannabis testing can be profitable, the market is becoming increasingly commoditized. By participating in one of the numerous initiatives to develop consensus testing procedures for cannabis, laboratories can contribute to building customer trust. ASTM International and AOAC International lead initiatives aimed at improving analytical procedure standardization within the industry. These efforts have the potential to foster fair competition among all stakeholders.

Insights into Analytical Techniques in the Cannabis Testing Market

Cannabis testing methods involve a comprehensive analysis of various components such as cannabinoids, terpenes, contaminants, and potency levels. These methods employ sophisticated techniques including chromatography, spectrometry, and microbial testing to ensure product safety and quality.

Read on to know more about the cannabis testing methods

  • Sample Preparation: The preparation of cannabis samples for testing depends on their condition before and after testing. Cannabis extracts, concentrates, edibles, and dried flowers are all subject to testing in labs, with slight variations in sample preparation for each product type.
  • Cannabinoid Analysis: Common techniques for analyzing cannabinoids, which include CBD, THC, and CBN, are GC and HPLC.
  • Terpene & Strain Analysis: Some of the medicinal benefits of cannabis are derived from terpenes, which are also known for imparting fragrance. GC/MS, HPLC and gas chromatography/flame ionization detection (GC/FID) are examples of common analytical techniques. Additionally, the most popular method for strain analysis is PCR.
  • Heavy Metal Detection: Cannabis products may contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, copper, cadmium, and tungsten. When testing cannabis for heavy metals, mass spectrometry, ICP/OES, ICP/MS, and AAS techniques are valuable tools. Liquid chromatography, although less commonly used, is effective for arsenic testing in cannabis.
  • Pesticide Testing: If ingested, growers’ pesticides can have harmful effects. For pesticide analysis, methods like HPLC, LC/MS and GC/MS are frequently employed. Prior to LC/MS/MS, the QuEChERS method is frequently used to prepare samples.
  • Residual Solvents: Residual solvents from the extraction process, such as acetone, butane, ethanol, propane, and benzene, might remain in the final cannabis product. Popular methods for testing these leftover solvents include GC with headspace analysis, along with techniques like GC/FID and GC/MS.
  • Microorganisms and Mycotoxins: In addition to fungal toxins like aflatoxins and mycotoxins, cannabis can harbor microorganisms like mold, bacteria, mildew, and yeast. A cursory visual inspection of mold and mildew can be obtained with a dissecting microscope, but a more comprehensive analysis requires more sophisticated techniques. PCR is frequently used in conjunction with conventional microbiology methods like petri film analysis to identify specific bacterial strains and toxins. 

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Enhancing Precision & Addressing Constraints in Cannabis Testing Market

As the cannabis industry grows and matures, the demand for precise and reliable testing of cannabis equipment is increasing. However, laboratories face numerous challenges and constraints that hinder their ability to provide high-quality cannabis testing services.

The absence of consistency and standardization in analytical techniques is a significant problem in cannabis testing market. The complexity and diversity of cannabis products pose a challenge in testing every aspect comprehensively with a single, reliable, and accurate method or technique. This complexity makes it challenging for laboratories to develop and validate analytical procedures suitable for specific uses, ensuring precise and dependable results.

The absence of regulatory standards and guidance presents another difficulty for cannabis testers. Cannabis testing regulations are still being developed in many jurisdictions, and laboratories are not required to adhere to many set standards or guidelines. This can lead to confusion for clients looking for accurate and dependable testing services as well as difficulty for laboratories to understand their duties and responsibilities.

The absence of standards and reference materials is a third obstacle in cannabis testing. Laboratories need access to traceable, comparable reference materials and standards in order to validate analytical procedures and guarantee the accuracy and dependability of test results. However, obtaining these materials can be costly and challenging, which may restrict laboratories’ capacity to offer progressive testing services. Despite challenges in cannabis testing industry, labs can enhance accuracy to ensure product safety and industry growth.

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Ensuring Legitimacy & Acceptance: Cannabis Testing Market

Cannabis testing facilities contribute to product quality and consumer safety by reducing the presence of microorganisms, processing chemicals, and residual pesticides. The dynamic regulatory landscape sets challenges for professionals in the analytical testing in the cannabis testing industry. They must adapt to shifting requirements, leading to confusion among cannabis producers and processors. 

For cannabis testing to maintain its growth, legitimacy, and acceptance, the industry needs a collective approach. This involves learning from well-established and regulated sectors like food, pharmaceuticals, and environmental industries, gathering more testing data, and continually assessing testing programs as regulations evolve.


By Rasika Kambli

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    Lab testing is necessary for batches or lots of cannabis products intended for adult use and medical purposes. Lots or batches of cannabis products for medical and adult use include the final packaging. Further, the customer will purchase these cannabis products.

    Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a specialized software. It facilitates the automation of workflows, information management, and the integration of software and instruments from various vendors under a single management platform. A LIMS compiles test results and cannabinoid levels (such as THC or potency testing), pesticide levels, metals, terpene profiles, and other information related to cannabis testing.