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Microwave Digestion of Cannabis & Cannabis-Based Foods for Trace Metals Analysis

August 23, 2018
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Since 1970, marijuana has been designated a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, making it nearly impossible for academic labs to perform cannabis research. However, medicinal use of cannabis is now legal in Canada, 29 US states, the Czech Republic and Israel. With the law under review, the UK is currently licensing cannabis oil on a case-by-case basis, with the first license granted in June 2018. All of this interest in medical cannabis has highlighted the need for good analysis methodology in this relatively young market. Cannabis analysis is still developing standardized protocols, requirements, and acceptable testing practices. Typical testing requirements for cannabis and its products include heavy metal analysis, pesticide residue, and the potency of active ingredients such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The terpene content of cannabis is also important. Terpenes have been shown to have beneficial uses for treatment of conditions ranging from cancer and inflammation to anxiety and sleeplessness. It is believed that the combination of terpenes and cannabinoids in cannabis produce a synergistic effect with regards to medical benefits.


Certain heavy metals can cause adverse effects on human health. Toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are persistent once released into the environment and can accumulate in Cannabis plants. Cannabis-based products such as foods, oils, tinctures and salves should be tested for the presence of heavy metals to ensure patient safety and product quality. Cannabis infused edible products have grown in popularity in states that allow recreational use of cannabis. This application note centers around the sample preparation of the top 10 edible products, according to High Times magazine.


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