Initiative in U.S. aims to improve THC testing in labs

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Two U.S. companies will work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on ways to improve testing in cannabis labs under the Institute’s Cannabis Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP). For hemp growers, initiative addresses the critical process of verifying that THC levels are in compliance with the federal limit of 0.3% by dry weight.

San Diego-based CV Sciences and Alkemist Labs, Stanton, California, say tools developed through the program will support standards for legal commerce and product safety.

Importance of standards

CV Sciences and Alkemist are to help develop analytical tools for hemp-derived CBD raw material and finished products. Alkemist Labs will do the initial validation testing and distribute hemp oil samples to laboratories participating in CannaQAP.

The companies said that while analytical testing of cannabis is no more challenging than the analysis of other plants, test results can significantly impact a company’s business and therefore the tests should adhere to strict standards.

The 2018 Farm Bill defined hemp as cannabis containing not more than 0.3% THC and removed hemp from the controlled substances list. The changes require laboratories throughout the United States to develop THC testing tools.

Tests are critical

CBD stakeholders have said reliable tests are among the fundamental tools needed to sort out a market that is crowded with products, many of them substandard and potentially dangerous to health.

The broader CannaQAP initiative is intended to benefit forensic laboratories that are developing analytical methods to distinguish hemp from marijuana through quantitative measurements or screening thresholds; quality control laboratories testing cannabis products for strength and composition; regulatory laboratories testing for product compliance; and researchers conducting clinical trials on the safety and benefits of cannabis products.

NIST, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, develops validation standards for materials testing and measurements of all kinds. Among other guidelines, NIST has developed a multivitamin validation standard and more recently has worked on DNA identification techniques for botanical ingredients as part of its work in dietary supplements.

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