Cannabis potency testing is extremely important. Companies need to comply with state regulations for accurate cannabis potency labeling, and also rely on potency testing results when formulating cannabis infused products and edibles. However, there is always much concern around cannabis potency testing because different laboratories can return differing results. When cannabis testing is performed by experienced staff, using validated procedures and instruments this should not be a concern though. This article will provide you with insight into Juniper Analytics cannabis potency testing procedure. We test cannabis with integrity so we can provide transparency and reliable results.
Cannabinoid potency is determined using HPLC-UV. HPLC stands for high performance liquid chromatography, and UV refers to ultraviolet radiation. This equipment measures a compound’s absorption of light at different wavelengths. For cannabis flower potency testing, moisture content also needs to be determined in order to provide the most accurate results. HPLC-UV is ideal for testing cannabinoid potency because it offers fast, easy, validated, and reliable results.
At Juniper Analytics, our potency testing service screens for ten different cannabinoids:
When cannabinoid potency results are provided, it will include the individual cannabinoid levels. We will also report the “Total THC” and total cannabinoids. “Total THC” means the sum of the percentage by weight of THCa multiplied by 0.877 plus the percentage by weight of THC. Total THC is important because most THC is in the form of THCa until it is decarboxylated.
Total cannabinoids are the total amount of all cannabinoids in the sample. For example, if your total THC is 18%, your total cannabinoids may be 19.2% since the “total cannabinoids” are the sum of all cannabinoids in the sample (not just THC).
For more details on Oregon cannabis testing requirements, you can view the OLCC Sampling and Testing Metrc Guide. Be aware that requirements change and we are reporting these as of January 2022. Be aware that OLCC is expected to make updates this summer.
Full compliance testing is required for all cannabis products intended for sale in Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) requires all marijuana items to be sampled according to ORELAP cannabis sampling protocols and tested according to OAR 333-007-0300 to 333-007-0490 and OAR 333-064-0100 to 333-064-0110. As mentioned above, R&D testing for cannabis is not reported to state authorities (with the exception of R&D pesticide testing in concentrates/extracts), but compliance testing is reported. Full compliance testing has defined parameters for batch size, sample size, and who can perform sampling. When it comes to cannabis potency testing, compliance testing ensures that products meet Oregon cannabis potency limits.
|Type of Marijuana Item||Maximum|
Amount of THC
or Amount of THC in
|Cannabinoid Product – Edibles||5 mg||50 mg|
|Cannabinoid Product – Topical||N/A||6%|
|Cannabinoid Product – Tincture||N/A||1,000 mg|
|Cannabinoid Product – Capsule||10 mg||100 mg|
|Cannabinoid Concentrates or Extracts||N/A||1,000 mg|
|Cannabinoid Products Other than|
Edibles, Topicals, Tinctures
Capsules, Suppositories or Transdermal
Patches and Not Intended for Human
Once the sample arrives at our laboratory, we begin by checking the sample in. It is prepared for analysis by extracting the cannabinoids from the sample. Depending on the type of cannabis product, different solvents will be used to accomplish this.
Much attention needs to be paid when preparing a sample for testing. It is important to homogenize samples fully so the result is accurate. For example, if we have an 8 gram sample of cannabis flower, we won’t need to extract all of it. However, the amount taken from the 8 gram sample needs to represent the batch as a whole. If we were only to put the frostiest tips of the buds in our sample, that could lead to higher potency results that don’t accurately represent the whole batch. And if we were to include stems and leaves or only take lower buds we could have results that are inaccurately low. Part of being a lab that believes in integrity is ensuring that we are testing samples that truly represent the whole batch.
Once we extract the cannabinoids from a sample, we filter out impurities. Finally, the sample is prepared for HPLC-UV analysis by diluting it according to our validated lab method. Once the sample is run on the HPLC-UV instrument, a chromatogram is produced. This is a graph with peaks along it that correspond to the different cannabinoids. A Juniper Analytics analyst reviews the chromatograms to make sure that they are accurate and then reports the results to Confident Cannabis.
When it comes to potency testing for CBD isolate, THC isolate, or other isolates like CBG or CBN, we face a challenge because the sample needs to be diluted significantly in order to be within the range that the HPLC-UV equipment can read and calculate. With any analysis there is an acceptable margin of error which takes into account slight variances from balances and analytical instrumentation throughout the entire analytical process. This margin presents a unique challenge for isolate testing because a producer might be shocked that their isolate tests at 98.5% potency instead of 99.9% potency. However, this lower value could be due to the measurement of uncertainty.
For example, if a CBD isolate was 99.9% pure and we had a calculated measurement uncertainty of +/- 1% (which takes into account the tiny variances using balances, pipettes, the analytical instrumentation itself, etc.) then you could expect to see results anywhere from 98.9%-100.9%.
Retail and medical cannabis testing rules are the responsibility of The Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Any cannabis product or cannabis flower sold at retail dispensaries must be sampled and tested according to those rules. When it comes to choosing a cannabis testing laboratory, you must have testing done at a lab that is accredited by ORELAP and licensed by OLCC.
In addition to accreditation and licenses, a cannabis testing laboratory should be transparent about their testing and sampling practices. Laboratory methods should be validated and equipment needs to be calibrated according to schedule. Cannabis testing laboratories should make their quality manual available to you upon request. You may be asked to sign a non-disclosure before viewing it, but this manual will outline the laboratory’s operations and how they comply with necessary regulations.
You’ll also need to consider cost and turn around time of testing. At Juniper Analytics, we utilize cutting edge scientific methods, the brightest minds in the industry, and an unmatched dedication to detail. Our cannabis testing services offer quick turn around, affordability, and results you can trust. Customer service is key and we offer responsive communication to ensure clients don’t feel left in the dark.