PerkinElmer
  • Research Areas

Cannabis Analysis

Analyzing cannabis can be challenging – setting up a laboratory, developing methods to ensure maximum throughput of samples, generating client reports, and preserving data integrity. More importantly, as state rules and regulations evolve, cannabis labs need instrumentation and support that can help these labs meet new and stricter demands.

Whether your lab is well established or just starting up, having a single-source vendor that can offer turnkey solutions that help you meet state and regional regulations is essential to a successful business. For years, we’ve worked with government and contract cannabis laboratories to develop industry-leading methods, technology, and exceptional return on investment. We help drive analytical standards and commit to ensuring your laboratory has maximum uptime. Learn about our various testing methods and applications for cannabis analyses. Let us work with you to build an efficient workflow, so you can focus on growing your business.

PerkinElmer products and solutions are intended to be used for analytical testing of cannabis in laboratories where such use is permitted under state and/or country law. PerkinElmer does not support or promote the use of its products or solutions in connection with illegal use. Further, PerkinElmer is not condoning the use of recreational or medical marijuana.

Research Specialities

Pesticide Testing

Analyzing with LC-MS/MS for Superior Selectivity, Sensitivity, Resilience, and Easy Sample Prep

High-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) has emerged as the method of choice for pesticide and mycotoxin analysis in cannabis. Traditionally, pesticides are screened using two analytical instruments: GC/MS and LC-MS/MS. However, most of the studies for the two-system technology approach either do not achieve state action limits or require multiple time-consuming sample preparation methods and instrument consumables.

Our QSight® 220 Pesticide Analyzer utilizes a single instrument and single prep method for rapid, reliable results — suitable for labs wanting to comply with stringent regulations. This method allows identification and quantification of all pesticides and mycotoxins at levels well below action limits (0.005 to 0.25 µg/g). The ability to screen and quantitate the hydrophobic and chlorinated compounds normally analyzed on a GC-MS/MS, as well as all the mycotoxins, makes it the ideal analytical technique for the cannabis industry.

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Potency and Moisture Qualification

Naturally occurring cannabinoids, the main biologically active components of the cannabis and hemp plant, form a complex group of closely related compounds, of which 70 are known and well described. Of these, the primary focus has been on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) due to its pharmacological and toxicological characteristics, upon which strict legal limits have been enforced.

Cultivators and Processing labs often focus on Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), as it is the naturally occurring precursor to THC and is readily decarboxylated to THC via the drying and/or heating of cannabis.

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Mycotoxin Contamination

In addition to pesticides, the growing conditions for cannabis are also conducive to the growth of molds and fungi which can produce carcinogenic mycotoxins including ochratoxin A and aflatoxins. As a result, testing for the levels of pesticide and mycotoxins in cannabis is important to ensure consumer safety and quality control as these molecules can be highly toxic to all animal organisms and have harmful effects even at very low doses. Contamination can occur in the field, but also during the subsequent phases of transportation, storage, or processing, or when environmental conditions of temperature and humidity are precise enough to develop fungal spores naturally present in the environment.

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Residual Solvents and Terpene Analysis

The pre-installed PerkinElmer method for residual solvent and terpene analysis on the GC/MS-HS allows the streamlined lab to run both tests simultaneously.

Cannabis processors utilize extraction to isolate desirable components of the plant, like the terpenes and cannabinoids, and eliminate undesirable parts, like fats and chlorophyll. From oranges to cannabis, terpenes are found in the oils of all botanicals and are often responsible for the distinct flavors and fragrances consumers recognize. By leveraging unique terpenes and key cannabis strains, growers, processors, and producers can differentiate themselves – and their products— in this ever growing market. Additionally, the potential medical benefits of terpenes are continually explored and new analysis opportunities surge.

Most cannabis concentrates are extracted using a solvent such as supercritical CO2, butane, hydrocarbon (hexane), propane, water (ethanol) or alcohol. These solvents are used to extract out the cannabinoids & terpenes from the plant material. In some cases, impurities from the solvent remain in the final cannabis product. These are called residual solvents and understanding their concentration is a critical element of cannabis testing.

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Heavy Metals and Toxic Element Prevention

Harmful toxic elements can be absorbed into cannabis plants primarily through uptake from the soil, water, and fertilizer. Concentrations are at comparatively trace levels – in the parts per billion or parts per trillion – but can still be harmful to end consumers. As such, it’s important to measure the toxic elemental content of plants and plant materials.

Cannabis and hemp plants are complex biological entities that require sample preparation, usually consisting of homogenization followed by microwave digestion to completely break down the complex matrix and extract the elements. Despite these steps, matrix-induced spectral interferences persist, which may cause false readings, especially for toxic elements. To help ensure accuracy and compliance, our NexION ICP MS includes a detailed SOP that allows heavy metals such as Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, and Cadmium, to be quantified in a cannabis lab.

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The Complete Cannabis Solution

In addition to outstanding instrumentation and superior technology, our solutions offer consumables, software options and a knowledgeable, dedicated service team.

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Need more information?

Connect with a local specialist who can guide you through the process of setting up a cannabis laboratory and meeting regional regulations.