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SiliCycle Products for Cannabis Analysis

Since the end of the last century, production methods have become increasingly sophisticated, resulting a wide range of various cannabis products. Analysis of cannabis has taken on new importance in light of legalized marijuana in several states of the United States (U.S.).

Cannabis contains several different components classed as cannabinoids. Primary cannabinoids of interest are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) & cannabinol (CBN).

Cannabis analysis requires analytical data which are comparable between laboratories and over time

As of January 2015, 24 states of the U.S. as well as Canada and various European countries have passed laws allowing Cannabis to be used for medical applications.

In November 2016, the use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana has been legalized in the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Neighbouring Canada is giving itself until late 2018 or early 2019 to open up the market for recreational marijuana.

Currently, laws regulating manufacturing practices and quality standards of Cannabis source materials are few or nonexistent, and vary widely among jurisdictions: the absence of federal guidance has led states to develop their own approaches.

With these new changes on marijuana legal status, there has been drastic requirements for inspecting, monitoring, evaluating whether cannabinoid products present potential risks to human health.

SiliCycle offers products to support this industry to produce high quality cannabis of top most purity.


> SiliaQuick™ QuEChERS

> SiliaPrep™ SPE Cartridges

> Syringe Filters, Vials & Caps

> SiliaChrom® HPLC Columns

> SiliaSep™ Flash Cartridges

> SiliaPlate™ TLC Plates

> SiliaMetS® Metal Scavengers

> SiliaBond® Organic Scavengers

> SiliCycle R&D Services


Risk Assessment

There are various approaches to the assessment and management of hazards that can be applied to cannabis programs.

Drawing upon the variety of tools and methods applied in product evaluation and protection programs for other types of products, the product protection pyramid identifies activities implemented by public health agencies and by producers/product handlers to evaluate and ensure product quality.

At the base of the pyramid, growers and processors implement good practices (maintaining growing facilities, appropriate use of insecticides, etc).

Adapted from Gorris 2005. Food safety objective: An integral part of food chain management. Food Control 16: 801–809.

Labs Challenges

Even though cannabis laboratories are maturing, they’re maturing in an environment far different than labs from regulated industry, like food laboratories.

Food safety testing laboratories have been governmentally regulated and funded from almost the very beginning, allowing them some financial breathing room to set up their operation, and ensuring they won’t be penalized for failing samples.

In contrast, testing fees for cannabis labs are paid by growers and producers – many of whom are just starting their own business and short of cash. This creates fierce competition between cannabis laboratories in terms of testing cost and turnaround time.

One similarity that the cannabis industry shares with the food industry is consumer and regulatory demand for safe product. This demand requires laboratories to invest in instrumentation and personnel to ensure generation of quality data. In short, the two major demands placed on cannabis laboratories are low cost and scientific excellence.

Scientific excellence isn’t cheap, thus cannabis laboratories are stuck between a rock and a hard place and are feeling the squeeze.

Responding to the Challenges

There are three types of data collected, evaluated and combined in a risk assessment:

  • Sources/Hazards (contaminants, pesticides, microbes or active ingredients)
  • Health effects/consequences/adverse events associated with each hazard
  • Exposure which involves sampling of products to determine concentrations of ingredients/contaminants and human exposure through use of the target product.

SiliCycle offers one of the the broadest selection of analytical solutions for contaminants data collection such as cannabinoids, terpenes, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and residual solvents.

Various Contaminants, Various Solutions


Selections of target pesticides for testing vary by state. For example, Massachusetts’ Medical Marijuana Program requires testing prohibited pesticides identified by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia which are commonly used in cannabis cultivation.
But New Jersey’s program selected pesticides for testing based on the EPA pesticide testing method 507.2,3 As another example, Oregon Health Authority’s technical report can be found online as a guide.


Various solvents are used during the manufacturing of cannabis extracts and concentrates to remove cannabinoids from the plant material. The extraction process is a supercritical fluid process in which the marijuana plant material is placed in a vessel with the solvent at high pressures. Each solvent used has its own extraction efficiency, toxicity and latency within the extracted product. The compounds used for the extraction of cannabinoids may also pose a health risk.

While no health-based solvent residual limits have been established specifically for cannabis extract or concentrate products, practices around pharmaceutical production and limits provide a reasonable model, particularly for the oral route of exposure.

The US Pharmacopeia’s National Formulary (chapt. 467) provides guidance for the use of solvents in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. This chapter has been adopted by many regulatory agencies in selecting solvents that may be utilized for extraction, as well as in setting the limits for residual solvents allowed in extracted products.
In Oregon, limits for solvents in cannabis products are based on the International Conference on Harmonized Tripartite Guideline, impurities: Guideline for Residual Solvents Q3C(R5) (ICHQ3C)

Microbiologicals & Mycotoxins

Typical Mycotoxins that may develop on cannabinoid crops.

A review of existing literature shows that the presence of mold on cannabis can result in severe health complications and death. Pathogenic bacteria may also be a cause of under-reported or recognized adverse events.

For example, kidney failure can emerge due to gastrointestinal infection linked to smoking cannabis which previously failed testing for the presence of enterobacteria and mold.

In general, bacteria cannot survive either the drying or heating processes to which cannabis is subjected. Salmonella, however, can survive at very low moisture levels and is highly infectious in humans. E. coli itself does not usually pose a significant health risk, but it is an indicator of poor sanitary conditions and the possible presence of other fecal bacteria.

As examples: Aspergillus are spores which can withstand desiccation and high temperatures, can cause respiratory infections in individuals who inhale it if they are immune-compromised. There is a known clinical correlation with cannabis smoking. Aflatoxins are highly carcinogenic mycotoxins which pose significant threat to exposed individuals.


For purification means, our Metal & Organic Scavengers offer a powerful, quick and versatile solution at all scales and imaginable formats. They have rapidly become blockbusters in all sorts of purification processes.
> read more

Cultivation of cannabis requires soil and water of a certain quality, i.e. it should be free of contaminants. Since this might not always be the case, screening of heavy metals is recommended to safeguard the cannabis user’s health. Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic are toxic to both plants and humans, and therefore often the focus of testing.


Potency of cannabis products may vary largely by strain.

The goal in determining what cannabinoids should be quantified is to support label accuracy. Although cannabis contains more than 150 cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) has received the most attention since it is the principal psychoactive component of the plant.

Other analytes often required for analysis include cannabidiolic acid (CBD-A), cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabidiol (CBD), cannibigerol (CBG), tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), cannabinol (CBN) and delta-8-THC (Δ8-THC).


SiliCycle Solutions

Cannabis analysis cannot be shrink to a simple and unique experiment.

Analytical labs first need to :

  • Prepare an effective sample for subsequent detection of the various compounds previeously presented
  • Detect, and then separate the latter for thorough analysis
  • Ultimately, purify the sample lot for delivery to market while minimizing waste


> SiliaQuick™ QuEChERS

> SiliaPrep™ SPE Cartridges

> Syringe Filters, Vials & Caps


> SiliaQuick™ QuEChERS

> SiliaPrep™ SPE Cartridges

> Syringe Filters, Vials & Caps


> SiliaMetS® Metal Scavengers

> SiliaBond® Organic Scavengers

SiliCycle R&D Center

For any issue you may have, we offer high-throughput R&D services.

  • We listen. We understand. We work with you.
  • Assistance to start-ups & young tech companies.
  • We are flexible, commited, reliable, innovative, fast & affordable.

Our scientists' competencies:

  • Analytical Chemistry
    • Analytical method development and optimization (UPLC, HPLC, GC, etc.)
    • Extraction of natural compounds
    • Sample preparation using various techniques (SPE, QuEChERS, etc.)
    • Method validation under Good Laboratories Practices norms

... as well as a vast experiences in other spheres of competence such as:

  • Medicinal & Organic Chemistry
  • Biology, Biochemistry
  • Catalysis & Organometallic Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering, Physical & Petrochemistry

> learn more about SiliCycle R&D Services

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  1. SiliCycle White Paper: Testing and Analysis of Cannabis Products for Safety & Potency

    Testing and Analysis of Cannabis Products for Safety & Potency

    Cannabis analysis requires analytical data which are comparable between laboratories and over time. SiliCycle offers products to support this industry to produce high quality cannabis of top most purity.

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