We all know that not all strains of cannabis are equal. Some have high concentrations of THC (marijuana,) while others beef up on the CBD (hemp). Even within each type of cannabis, quality varies.
Some hemp strains have a reputation for producing cannabinoids in certain quantities. To keep those reputations, continued cannabis testing is necessary. It’s the only way to know for sure you’ve got a quality plant, and by association, a quality extract.
Cannabis testing for potency
One of the main reasons cannabis testing is so important is potency. Especially after you’ve harvested your hemp crop, you should run multiple tests. Testing compounds like CBD, CBG, CBC, or CBN for potency can help establish how effective your storage process is. If potency goes down from harvest to processing, you may have stored your hemp too long. Either that, or your storage conditions may be sub-par.
Another reason it’s important to test potency is to ensure the dosage of your extract is correct. If you’re creating a CBD product that boasts a certain percentage of the cannabinoid, you want to make sure there’s not too little, or too much. Accuracy is important. We’re still learning about how various amounts of most cannabinoids affect the average person.
There are two common methods in cannabis testing that assess potency. They are high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC).
High-performance liquid chromatography
Just like its fancy name, this two-step process is a little hard to understand. The substance getting tested, in this case hemp, gets carried down a pressurized column as it dissolves into a solution. As this happens different components interact differently with components already in the column. Everything is then sorted accordingly.
At the end of this process, a chemist can compare the spectral data from your plant against a baseline sample. This helps to gather important potency information.
This type of test can reveal the age of your biomass as well. This is an important piece of information since certain cannabinoids degrade over time. It can also help you see how potency changes between raw materials and what you extract from the plants.
A little less costly than HPLC, gas chromatography is also a little less versatile in what it can detect. While its potency profile might not be as in depth, this process is effective. It can handle terpene profiling, screen for pesticides, and do a residual solvent analysis.
GC takes the acidified versions of the cannabinoids within hemp biomass and converts them to their neutral forms. This happens using heat. You find the total values when the neutral compounds peak.
Cannabis testing for contamination
Besides liquid chromatography, cannabis testing can include a few other procedures. This helps ensure the product complies with regulations. Plant matter goes through many hands before it’s ready for market. This makes contamination a risk. For that reason, hemp can get tested for:
- Chemical contaminants such as pesticides or artificial growth hormones.
- Microbial contaminants such as fungi, mold, or mildew.
- Physical contaminants such as dust, dirt, hair, or fecal matter.
- Heavy metals like lead or mercury.
Many of these contaminants are extremely dangerous for people to ingest. This is why manufactures releasing specific hemp-derived products make cannabis testing a priority. You might not get that same attention to detail using homegrown hemp or buying things off- market.
Buying safe, tested products
Cannabis testing is just one way to ensure quality when selecting hemp-derived products to sell. At Arbor Vita8, quality is a top priority. Having access to testing results like these can help inform what we sell.
Additionally, creating extracts that have the highest potency and lowest levels of contamination within our own facility is essential. That’s why we offer fully-automated equipment for processing whenever we can. This ensures our biomass comes into human contact as little as possible. Our processes are also extremely efficient and fast. This means plant matter sits around for shorter periods of time, decreasing the risk for potency to drop.
To learn more about our products, services, and equipment, contact Arbor Vita8 today.