Cannabis Quality Assurance & Analytical Testing

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In order to abide by a standard quality cannabis must go through testing processes. These testing processes can help identify specific favorable components in the cannabis, as well as screen for unwanted contaminants in the cannabis. The most common form of analytical testing cannabis is subjected to is potency testing. So, how is cannabis analytically tested to provide solid quality assurance?  

How is Potency Testing Helpful? 

potency testing plays a useful role in guiding doctors and medicinal cannabis users in calculating proper dosing.   


To test for cannabinoid potency, cannabis must undergo a process called chromatography. It helps with identifying which cannabinoids and terpenes are present in the cannabis sample (such as THC and CBD). chromatography is one of the most common forms of analytical testing in cannabis laboratories. This process involves a separating of molecules based on differences in their structure and components. The separated molecules are then passed by a prepared sample of material in the form of liquid or gas. The component chemicals within the mixture then move at different rates. The rate of movement allows these components to be identified.  

Chromatography | Different Interactions 

Different reactions occur between these sample molecules and the medium through which they pass through. These different interactions cause the molecules to separate and then grouped based on their specific interactions within the medium. Molecules showing stronger interactions within the medium move more slowly throughout the medium. Molecules showing weaker interactions within the medium move more quickly throughout the medium.  As a result, these differing molecules within the mixture can then be separated from each other.  

Chromatography | Separation Varieties 

There’s a variety of media can be used to carry out chromatography including volatile gases, paper, liquid, and silica on glass plates. At present time, the most common and well-known form of chromatography used by cannabis labs are the liquid and gas chromatography.  

Mass Spectrometer 

The mass spectrometer is another instrument that can identify how much of a particular substance is present in the cannabis sample.  

Safety Screening 

Among analytical testing and quality assurance, the safety screening is of utmost importance. Safety testing screens for contaminants within the cannabis sample such as bacteria, pesticide residue, and pathogenic fungi. 

Testing for Contaminants 

Testing for fungi and bacteria contaminants consists most often of culture plates which are inoculated with samples of cannabis. Testing for pesticides are commonly tested and detected by chromatography

Validated Testing Methods 

It’s important to make sure that the analytical testing laboratory chosen is using independently validated testing methods.  

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