The primary cannabinoids of interest for potency tests are THC, CBD and CBN. A breakdown product of THC, CBN is an indicator of cannabis deterioration due to age or poor storage conditions. UISOL uses gas chromatography (GC) coupled with flame ionization detection (FID) for potency analysis in plants, oil, isolates, high content extraction and cosmetic products.
Terpenes present an analytical challenge because they are nonpolar and structurally similar, and many structural isomers exist. Mass spectometry (MS) cannot distinguish terpenes that co-elute from a GC column because many have the same molecular weight and share fragment ions. UIS developed a method to analyse terpenes in cannabis using direct injection of DI-GC-FID. UISOL can profile 19 different terpenes associated with cannabis.
Heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury lead, cadmium and chromium can enter cannabis plants from contaminated soil. These metals can be detected at trace amounts (ppb) by inductively coupled plasma ICP-optical emission spectometry (OES).
The extraction of cannabis to produce materials for use in oils, edibles and other products often utilises solvents such as butane, propane, isopropanol or acetone. These solvents are harmful to health, so they should be absent from the final product. There is a trend in the industry to move away from these solvents and employ supercritical carbon dioxide, ethanol or water in the extraction procedures. Because solvents are volatile, GC-FID can be used for both terpene and residual solvent analysis.