There’s a lot that is changing about the cannabis industry. Legalization has opened up the doors for everything from finding healthy ways to eat weed to cannabis fans looking for specific cannabinoid and terpene concentrations.
Regulators are also keeping a close eye on the quality, chemical makeup, and potency of cannabis products in the legal market. All of these factors come together to make cannabis lab testing so important.
Here’s everything you need to know about cannabis testing.
Understanding Cannabinoid Profiling
The work done at a cannabis testing lab is largely focused around cannabinoid profiling.
If you don’t know, cannabinoids are a series of chemicals found in cannabis plants. There are over 500 known cannabinoids. One of the exciting things about the current state of the cannabis industry is that we’re still getting a good understanding of what each of these cannabinoids does.
The most popular cannabinoids are currently THC and CBD. Cannabinoid profiling tests a cannabis product for the amount of each cannabinoid present in the product. This is done for a variety of reasons.
The first, and the most obvious, is that consumers want to know what’s in the cannabis products they’re enjoying. The sellers of these products also need to know the contents in order that they can accurately market them and make sure that regulators know what’s being sold.
One of the reasons people often ask can you eat marijuana is due to its potent flavor.
So, why does cannabis have such a potent flavor and aroma? This is all down to chemicals known as terpenes that exist in a wide variety of plants. Terpenes are responsible for the scent as well as the taste of cannabis.
Different terpenes are known to have different tastes and odors. Terpenes like pinene are responsible for the strong pine-like aroma. Limonene is responsible for a refreshing citrus taste.
Terpene profiling isn’t just useful for people who are looking for a specific flavor or aroma. Terpenes are quickly being identified for their health benefits. Terpene profiling gives individuals a sense of the positive benefits of the terpenes that they can find in your cannabis products.
The Gear That Gets It Done
There’s a lot of science that goes into growing weed and making cannabis products. Did you know that answering can you eat weed and get high all depends on a chemical process that takes the THCa in “raw” weed and turns it into the THC in cannabis that gets you high? That’s just part of the science at play here.
In order to get the science done, we need some specialized equipment first.
Liquid Chromatography Systems
Liquid chromatography systems are used to detect the potency of cannabis plants. These machines measure the concentration of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids in order to give you a sense of the concentration of these chemicals in your plants and products.
Potency is one of the biggest factors for cannabis labs. Growers, companies developing new products, and consumers are all asking first and foremost about the potency of the products they’re buying.
Gas Chromatography Systems
Much like liquid chromatography systems, gas chromatography systems are used to detect the potency of cannabis plants. However, they also have another very important use.
Gas chromatography systems are capable of detecting pesticides, residual solvents, and other chemical contaminants. It’s incredibly important that these products be screened for these potential hazards so that the products that reach the market are safe for human consumption.
Mass Spectrometry Systems
Now let’s talk about detecting terpenes. Mass spectrometry systems are used to detect the terpene profiles of a cannabis flower or product. This is becoming increasingly important as individuals are starting to look for specific terpenes in their products.
These mass spectrometry systems are also great at detecting pesticides and other organic chemical contaminants that other systems have trouble detecting.
Opening a Cannabis Lab? Your First Steps
Now that you know what a cannabis lab does, how do you open one?
The first thing you need to consider when opening a cannabis lab is your local and state regulations. These laws will cover everything from disposing of waste cannabis products, how to minimize cannabis odors, and even where you can build your business.
After that, it’s down to putting together a business plan that outlines everything from funding sources to how your business plans to make its money. Cannabis testing labs are a booming business and as legalization reaches the federal level, they’re only going to become more important.