Trends and Developments in Cannabis Chromatography: Cannabis Testing

Written by Petar Petrov

The cannabis industry’s rapid and incoming growth comes with an increasing need of cannabis products of better quality, whether they are meant for medical or recreational use. And with the need of such products comes the need of more rigorous and precise cannabis testing. Something a bit more in-depth than a cultivar description in an Amsterdam coffee shop. Something like chromatography.

The Need of Cannabis Testing

In order for the cannabis industry to escape the stigma and the shadow of its past illegal status and fulfill its immense and wide-spanning potential, its products need to be subjected to strict testing. It’s safe to say this is in everyone’s best interest – regulators, producers, and consumers. Without it, producers wouldn’t be sure of their products, consumers wouldn’t know exactly what they’re getting intoand might as well turn to illegal cannabis if they are using it for recreational purposes, and possibly to prescription drugs if they are after medication. This would respectively hinder producers’ operations, make regulators look like fools, wreak havoc on the whole market, and ultimately, make everyone wonder why cannabis became legal in the first place.

Furthermore, with something as new as the cannabis industry, the different states’ regulations and criteria keep changing. Some states deemspecific pesticides and contaminants particularly dangerous while other states prohibit a different set. This makes the need of precise cannabis testing indispensable. [1] Gas chromatography, for example, is very effective at accurate detecting terpenes, some pesticides, and residual solvents, the regulations for which vary from state to state.

Gas Chromatography

Gas chromatography requires comprehensive scientific experience and laboratory knowledge. [2] However, as a byproduct of the burgeoning cannabis industry, this technology has become more user-friendly, compact, and cost-effective than ever, giving smaller companies their shot. Gas chromatography is used to test cannabis for potency and efficacy, meaning the ratio of compounds such as total THC, total CBD, terpenes, and othersthat define a cultivar. [3]

Through trial and error, producers can see the exact levels of the fundamental compounds, make out the exact profile of their product, and respectively market it better, all while pushing the overall industry standards up.

When it comes to medical cannabis applications, gas chromatography can also make a huge difference since it can pinpoint a cannabis product’s exact curative properties and the medical conditions they can be most efficient in treating.

No wonder gas chromatography has turned into one of the industry’s go-to method for cannabis testing, not only an equalizer of the odds, but also their elevator.


Shimadzu’s Cannabis Analyzer for Potency™ employs high performance liquid chromatography and a robust software with three analysis methods: high-throughput, high-sensitivity, and high-resolution.  This turn-key analytical tool ensures that users do not need to possess an extensive chromatography or analytical chemistry background, and comes with relevant ancillary equipment to enable immediate testing, all at a price point that rivals less sophisticated instrumentation marketed to the cannabis industry.

908 Devices offers theG908 3-in-1 GC-HPMS analyzer, which provides total potency, terpenes, and residual solvent analysis through blending ballistic gas chromatography and high-pressure mass spectrometry. [1]

These are some of the best devices currently out there, but by far not the only ones – there are also 1290 Infinity II LC for Terpene Testing, Intuvo 9000 GC for Potency and Terpene Testing, Ellutia 200 Series GC, and more.

Testing is a fundamental phase of almost any industry, especially ones that involvediverse chemical compounds andthe countless interplays between themwhich can mean the difference between relief and cure, a buzz and sky-scrapping high. Every industry, especially one as new, yet laden with prejudice as the cannabis, depends on consistency to prosper, and consistency without testing would basically be consistent luck.  And we all know how consistent and dependable luck tends to be.



About the author

Petar Petrov

Petar is a freelance writer and copywriter, covering culture, art, society, and anything in-between that makes for a nice story. And as it so happens, cannabis is a great element to add to each of those conversations.

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