Method for the Analysis of Cannabinoids and Terpenes in Cannabis

Cannabis Committee

Chairperson: Tim Smale (Remedy Compassion Center)

Staff Contact: Jane Wilson

Committee Purpose: To address issues related to the safe use and responsible commerce of legally-marketed products derived from Cannabis species.

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Method for the Analysis of Cannabinoids and Terpenes in Cannabis

Cannabis Alert

Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Editor's Note: This research presents an optimized and validated method for the analysis of both terpenes and cannabinoids in cannabis from a single sample preparation. This method is only minimally affected by sample morphology and has been found to be fairly robust from a process standpoint. While the methods applied to the analysis of the terpenoids are rigorous, those developed for the analysis of the cannabinoids required some decidedly nonideal procedures due to the current legal environment. Rather than waiting for changes to the law, this provides pragmatic methods for typical laboratories involved in the analysis of cannabis to validate their methods through careful analysis of calibration curves and spike recoveries.

Journal of AOAC International
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5740/jaoacint.15-116
November-December 2015 


Method for the Analysis of Cannabinoids and Terpenes in Cannabis

Abstract:
The requirements for an acceptable cannabis assay have changed dramatically over the years resulting in a large number of laboratories using a diverse array of analytical methodologies that have not been properly validated. Due to the lack of sufficiently validated methods, we conducted a single-laboratory validation study for the determination of cannabinoids and terpenes in a variety of commonly occurring cultivars. The procedure involves high- throughput homogenization to prepare sample extract, which is then profiled for cannabinoids and terpenes by HPLC-diode array detector and GC-flame ionization detector, respectively. Spike recovery studies for terpenes in the range of 0.03-1.5% were carried out with analytical standards, while recovery studies for Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, cannabidiolic acid, Δ9 -tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid, and cannabigerolic acid and their neutral counterparts in the range of 0.3-35% were carried out using cannabis extracts. In general, accuracy at all levels was within 5%, and RSDs were less than 3%. The interday and intraday repeatabilities of the procedure were evaluated with five different cultivars of varying chemotype, again resulting in acceptable RSDs. As an example of the application of this assay, it was used to illustrate the variability seen in cannabis coming from very advanced indoor cultivation operations.
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