Testing Unique Cannabis Consumables – 3 Things you Need to Know

Posted on February 23, 2022

No longer are brownies and gummies the only options for consumers looking for cannabis-infused edible products. Over the past few years, brands in the cannabis industry have understood the assignment, and brought all kinds of creative matrices to the cannabis edibles market. Popcorn, tea, mints, cotton candy – the options seem limitless!  This has been a fun challenge for the chemists at your favorite testing laboratory; each new matrix is an opportunity to flex our analytical muscles and provide accurate and reliable quality control data on your new products. Here are 3 things you need to know about testing your unique cannabis consumables, and what factors can make or break a successful method validation.

1. What is Considered a Unique or Novel Matrix?

Let’s start with something simple; what do you mean by unique matrix?

Well, it all starts with your product being a unicorn…jokes. Think about your dad’s cannabis – traditionally cannabis was smoked as a flower or concentrated into an oil, and that is where the fun stopped. Flower and oil are considered standard matrices, they are products for which testing methods have been developed and tested for accuracy and precision many times over.

Walk into your nearest cannabis retailer today, and you will see much more than just the OG flower and oil. Unlike testing flowers or concentrates, testing edibles is not a cookie cutter process. Your popcorn may present challenges due to uneven coating process, your mints might be susceptible to “hot spots,” or your cotton candy fluff might interfere with common detection methods. Each of these unicorn matrices require special attention to develop a reliable test method for quality control measurements.

2. What is The Biggest Challenge Analysts Face When Testing Edibles?

There are two main factors that lead to challenges in testing unique cannabis infused consumable products: variability within the sample, and extraction efficiency. The variability in potency within a single sample or batch, for example, can be significant. It depends on how the cannabinoids are being infused into each batch or product, and more importantly how efficient that infusion process is.  Making sure that analytical testing accurately represents the final product is a challenge shared by both the lab and the producer.

Unique Cannabis ConsumablesThe second challenge we face when testing a unique cannabis consumable is that every new category of cannabis edible likely requires a different preparation procedure before analytes can be extracted and quantified (Yes, these unicorns are also high maintenance!)  Analysts need to consider the starting ingredients, dosage concentrations and cooking temperatures, because these will all factor into how your sample is prepared for validation. Every step of the preparation process, from homogenization to extraction, is carefully considered based on the nature of the product and how it is prepared and consumed.

Of course, not everything works on the first try! Sometimes the analytical team will need to try a number of different preparation/extraction combinations in order to get the testing process down to a science.

3. So, How do I Start the Validation Process?

We made getting your unique cannabis matrix verified or validated easy! The short answer is, fill out CARO’s New Cannabis Matrix Checklist, found here.

Before you tackle this checklist, you’ll want to make sure you can answer some simple questions about your product/validation desires, such as:

-What sort of validation package do you want? A matrix verification (to see if an existing method will work for your product) or a new method validation (new product, new method)?

-What type of analysis are you wanting? Pesticides, potency, terpenes, residual solvents, etc. etc.  Learn more about our most common parameters, here.

-Do you have any information on testing that has been done on similar product(s)?

-What detection limit do you want or need for these analyses?

-What are the ingredients in your product?  Of particular interest are emollients, sugars or fragrances that could interfere with the tests.

-What are your expected results for this product?

If you can answer these questions about your unique cannabis consumable, then you’re more than ready to get your validation on!  Complete the New Cannabis Matrix Checklist and submit it to our team at [email protected].  Our team of scientists will review it as soon as possible and will be in touch with the next steps to get your validation going.

We always look forward to seeing what new and exciting products you bring to the table and are eager to help you get them validated and out to market!


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