Book:Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States/Cannabis testing instruments, software, and equipment/Vendors: 0 through F

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In the previous chapter, we discussed at length the specifics of the cannabis testing process. We talked about what's measured and how. This fourth chapter takes a closer look at the "with what" of testing. After a brief introduction, we then provide a list of vendors who specifically market instruments, software, and other equipment to cannabis testing laboratories.

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4. Cannabis testing instruments, software, and equipment

A variety of techniques are used to investigate the constituents of cannabis and their concentrations. From gas chromatography to make determinations about terpenes in a sample to quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) techniques to identify mycotoxins and microorganisms, these differing techniques require a wide variety of laboratory tools. The most common among cannabis testing instruments are chromatography and spectroscopy equipment, often combined together for a more complete analysis. However, this equipment can be expensive, sometimes prohibitively expensive. Initial investments may range anywhere from $75,000 up to $600,000 or more, depending on what sort of testing is being performed in the lab.[1][2][3] As such, newly founded labs or labs looking to expand their analytic offerings to cannabis testing may also consider the purchase of previously owned equipment to save on initial start-up costs.

What follows is a list of vendors known to offer new and/or used instruments, software, and equipment commonly used in cannabis testing laboratories, with links to either the instruments marketed for cannabis testing or a landing page to begin a search. This is by no means a complete list but a representative example of the vendors marketing to the cannabis testing industry.

4.1 Vendors: 0 through F

4.1.1 AB Sciex Pte. Ltd.

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/applications/food-and-beverage-testing/cannabis-testing.html

Commonly known as Sciex, AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. develops "solutions in mass spectrometry and capillary electrophoresis."[4] The company markets some of its solutions for cannabis lab testing, including[5]:

  • potency testing
  • mycotoxin testing
  • pesticide testing
  • terpene testing

Instruments and methods

Triple Quad systems

Sciex offers four different Triple Quad systems for tandem mass spectrometry paired with liquid chromatography (LC-MS/MS): the 7500, 6500+, 5500+, 4500, and 3500. The company claims that with these systems "scientists can acquire multiple reaction monitoring (MRM), precursor, neutral loss, and product ion scans to develop powerful methods for complex matrices, all while maintaining reproducibility and robustness."[6]

QTRAP systems

Sciex also offers three different Triple Quad Linear Ion Traps (QTRAP) systems for LC-MS/MS: the 6500+, 5500+, and 4500. The company states that these are similar to the Triple Quad systems "but with enhanced scan functions to enable simultaneous quantitation and confirmation."[7]

vMethod for Cannabis

Sciex also offers a "vMethod," a quantitation method for pesticide and cannabinoid analysis, that works on many of their LC-MS/MS systems.[8]


4.1.2 Agilent Technologies, Inc.

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://www.agilent.com/en/solutions/cannabis-hemp-testing

Agilent Technologies, Inc. is an instrument and software development company for the life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical industries. The company offers a variety of chromatography and spectrometry instruments (using a wide array of techniques) and software for the cannabis testing industry, including[9]:

  • potency and efficacy testing
  • heavy metals testing
  • microbial testing
  • mycotoxin testing
  • pesticide testing
  • residual solvents testing
  • terpene testing

Instruments and methods

The company suggests instrument options based on what type of testing will occur.[9]

Potency and efficacy testing

Heavy metals testing

  • 5110 ICP-OES Instrument: an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) instrument with synchronous radial and axial measurement
  • 7800 ICP-MS: an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instrument
  • 7900 ICP-MS: an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instrument with higher matrix tolerance, wider dynamic range, and better signal-to-noise ratio
  • 8900 Triple Quadrupole ICP-MS: an inductively coupled plasma normal and tandem mass spectroscopy instrument with triple quadrupole

Pesticide and mycotoxin testing

Residual solvents testing

Terpene testing

Software

  • ICP Expert Software for ICP-OES: inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) software for data analysis
  • MassHunter: mass spectrometry software for instrument control, monitoring, and data analysis
  • MicroLab: fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy software for quantitative method development, calibrations, and data analysis


4.1.3 Alpha-CAT Lab s.r.o.

Main landing page for cannabis production: https://www.alpha-cat.org/resources/how-it-works/

alpha-CAT Lab s.r.o. is a cannabis testing and equipment manufacturing business based in Prague, Czech Republic. The company not only runs cannabis testing laboratories in Europe but also develops the alpha-CAT cannabinoid analysis tool "which combines the simple analytical technique of thin-layer chromatography (TLC) with specific thin-layers and developing fluid."[10] Consult the website for more information.


4.1.4 BÜCHI Labortechnik AG

Main landing page for cannabis production: https://www.buchi.com/en/cannabis-application-booklet

BÜCHI Labortechnik AG is laboratory technology development company for research and development, quality control, and production operations globally. The company offers a variety of instruments and equipment for cannabis production workflow, including[11]:

  • post-chromatography and post-extraction solvent concentration
  • preparative chromatography for purification of cannabinoids
  • microencapsulation of CBD into gelatin beads/soft oil core capsules
  • formulation of CBD into an inhalable/edible dry powder

See the Theory & Applications booklet (main landing page) for more details on how to integrate the equipment for each activity.

Instruments and methods

The company suggests instrument options based on what type of production activity will occur.[11]

Post-chromatography and post-extraction solvent concentration

Preparative chromatography for purification of cannabinoids

Microencapsulation of CBD into gelatin beads/soft oil core capsules

Formulation of CBD into an inhalable/edible dry powder


4.1.5 CEM Corporation

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://cem.com/en/cannabis

CEM Corporation is laboratory instrumentation and method design and development company, with a focus on compositional analysis of food and other samples, as well acid digestion and chemical synthesis. CEM specifically offers two different instruments for cannabis testing and analysis labs, including instruments for the[12]:

  • extraction for potency, pesticide, terpene, and mycotoxin testing
  • microwave digestion of oils, edibles, and plant material (before, e.g., inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy)

Instruments and methods

  • EDGE: an automated instrument for energized dispersive extraction and dispersive solid-phase extraction (dSPE)
  • MARS 6: a microwave digestion system with hundreds of preprogrammed methods


4.1.6 Conquer Scientific Service, Inc.

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://conquerscientific.com/cannabis-testing/

Conquer Scientific Service, Inc. is a distributor of gently used laboratory testing equipment, including for the cannabis testing industry. Such instruments include a wide variety of chromatography and spectrometry devices, along with other essential supporting laboratory equipment like moisture analyzers. Conquer also offers repair services, including a same-day replacement program for Southern California customers.


4.1.7 Emerald Scientific, LLC

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://emeraldscientific.com/

Emerald Scientific, LLC calls their business "[t]he first and only company 100% dedicated to distributing scientific supplies and equipment to the cannabis industry."[13] The company lists a wide variety of instruments, equipment, and consumables for cannabis testing, production, and extraction laboratories. Emerald acts as a distributor of other products, and thus the inventory may change. Examples of inventory include:

  • sample preparation supplies
  • solvents
  • mass spectrometry columns
  • heating mantles
  • chillers and circulators
  • vacuum pumps and tubing
  • reference standards
  • culture media
  • safety equipment

Consult the Emerald website to see all they offer.


4.1.8 Fritsch GmbH

Main landing page for cannabis testing: https://www.fritsch-international.com/sample-preparation/applications-solutions/ (select "Cannabis" from Industry option)

Fritsch GmbH manufactures sample preparation and particle sizing equipment for laboratories. The company lists one instrument specifically for the cannabis industry.

Instruments and methods

  • Universal Cutting Mill PULVERISETTE 19: a cutting mill "to finely mill cannabis plant material in preparation for SFE processes," noting that "[t]he efficient and precise reduction in particle size optimizes oil output and formulation."[14]

References

  1. Schrover, J. (January 2016). "Industry Snapshot: Testing Labs". Marijuana Business Magazine. https://mjbizmagazine.com/industry-snapshot-testing-labs/. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  2. Clifford, B. (05 February 2018). "Cannabis Quality and Contamination Testing". News Medical Life Sciences. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20180205/Cannabis-Quality-and-Contamination-Testing.aspx. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  3. Borchardt, D. (05 April 2017). "Cannabis Lab Testing Is The Industry's Dirty Little Secret". Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/debraborchardt/2017/04/05/cannabis-lab-testing-is-the-industrys-dirty-little-secret/. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  4. "About Us". AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/about-us.html. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  5. "Enhance your marijuana and hemp testing lab’s potential with LC-MS/MS technology". AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/applications/food-and-beverage-testing/cannabis-testing.html. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  6. "SCIEX Triple Quad LC-MS/MS Systems". AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/products/mass-spectrometers/triple-quad-systems.html. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  7. "QTRAP LC-MS/MS Systems". AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/products/mass-spectrometers/qtrap-systems.html. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  8. "vMethod Application for Quantitation of Pesticide Residues and Cannabinoids in Cannabis Matrices 1.0". AB Sciex Pte. Ltd. https://sciex.com/content/SCIEX/na/us/en/products/methods/vmethod-application-for-quantitation-of-pesticide-residues-and-cannabinoids-in-cannabis-matrices-10.html. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Cannabis & Hemp Testing". Agilent Technologies, Inc. https://www.agilent.com/en/solutions/cannabis-hemp-testing. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  10. "How it works". Alpha-CAT Lab s.r.o. https://www.alpha-cat.org/resources/how-it-works/. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Cannabis Booklet: Theory & Applications" (PDF). BÜCHI Labortechnik AG. https://static1.buchi.com/sites/default/files/content-page/downloads/Application_Booklet_Cannabis_.pdf. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  12. "Cannabis Analysis". CEM Corporation. https://cem.com/en/cannabis. Retrieved 09 January 2021. 
  13. "Emerald Scientific". Emerald Scientific, LLC. https://emeraldscientific.com/. Retrieved 21 November 2018. 
  14. "CANNABIS PLANT MATERIAL PREPARATION FOR EFFICIENT EXTRACTION". Fritsch GmbH. https://www.fritsch-international.com/sample-preparation/applications-solutions/details/solution/cannabis-plant-material-preparation-for-efficient-extraction/. Retrieved 09 January 2021.