Cannabis Prospect Magazine - December '20 - Issue #12

Page 22

Quality Assurance/

A PRIMER ON CANNABIS TESTING IN CANADA Canadian Analytical Laboratories is an established Canadian leader bringing over 35 years of testing expertise to the Natural Health Products, Botanicals, Pharmaceuticals, Food, Cosmetics and Cannabis Industries. Visit for more information. Laboratory testing is a foundational component of a robust Quality Management System (QMS). Analytical testing is primarily concerned with confirming product specifications as they relate to potency and purity. Products that fail to confirm specifications may be sub-potent or adulterated with contaminants. Such products will be deemed to be non-compliant by Health Canada and potentially could pose threats to consumer health. Analytical testing offers many benefits towards understanding and maintaining a brand. Quantitative profiling of cannabinoids ensures that consumers receive consistent products, and this helps build consumer confidence and trust. Clearly, ensuring the absence of harmful pesticides or microbial contamination ensures consumer health and maintains compliance with existing regulations. The cannabis industry is still evolving and so are the testing standards. The move towards safety, identity, strength, purity and quality (SISPQ) concepts have their origins in the pharmaceutical industry and it is these important tenants that need to be further extended to cannabis products. Operating a cannabis testing laboratory in Canada requires an analytical testing licence from Health Canada. The laboratory needs to have access to proper testing equipment


and competent, highly-educated and trained chemists and microbiologists. A well-managed laboratory can deliver fast, efficient and accurate testing benefiting producers and processors, and thereby save time and money. Laboratory testing typically generates data for seven areas of analytical interest: quantitative cannabinoid assays; terpenes profiling, heavy metal determinations, microbiological evaluation, presence of residual solvents, pesticides and mycotoxins. Products need to be tested in all of the formats present in the growing cycle and include raw ingredients to secondary ingredients and packaging. Testing can be offered as a complete package or “a-la-carte� depending on client requirements. Laboratories test cannabis samples using validated or compendial analytical methods. These methods detail all of the required steps taken in the lab and include details on sample preparation and sample analysis to the calculation of the result. Compendial methods exist in certain pharmacopeias around the world such as the European Pharmacopoeia; however, laboratories are expected to demonstrate equivalency of the method through a verification process. In the absence of standard methods, laboratories are required to validate their own methods. Standards for analytical method

Cannabis Prospect Magazine | December 2020

validation are described in international standards (ICH Q2(R1): International Conference on Harmonization) and represent a measure of the suitability of the method and to determine if it is indeed fit for its intended purpose.


• THC and Cannabinoids: Potency analysis is the most common test conducted by laboratories. Precise cannabinoid potency testing demonstrates your product is compliant and accurately labeled. Whether cannabis is produced for recreational use and/or for medical cannabis use where dosing is critically important for patients seeking specific therapeutic responses. Potency measurement refers to quantifying the percentage of THC and CBD (cannabidiol) considering the potential to convert THCA into THC and CBDA to CBD in the cannabis samples. There are many other cannabinoids markers of interest that are routinely analyzed by laboratories. Potency and composition are an important factor for cannabis growers as both having a direct role in the value and selling price of the plant. Accurate potency testing can be a challenging activity especially since products come in a variety forms such as flowers and concentrates; baked goods and candies; and oils and tinctures used for ingestion

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