Potency Analysis

Cannabinoid Profiling

Cannabis is made up of over 500 chemical compounds, and potency analysis identifies and quantifies the cannabinoid compounds within the sample. Identifying and measuring the main cannabinoids is important for different types of products. Potency testing is used by growers, processors, dispensaries and quality control laboratories. Although many compounds are measured, total CBD and total THC are typically the most important when it comes to potency testing, because their ratio determines how long it takes to feel the effects.

Potency Analysis

Cannabis potency testing can be performed using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) or gas chromatography (GC), each having its advantages. GC is a quick and convenient method compared to HPLC, and may be a major determining factor in choosing a system. However, GC cannot detect CBDA, THCA, and other acids. These acids require an HPLC system for analysis. During a GC operation, the injector heats up the sample, causing decar-boxylation. In this process, THCA is converted to THC, and CBDA to CBD. Heating by the GC can simulate the smoking or baking process, commonly performed on cannabis products. This conversion does not affect the total THC and total CBD analysis, although the amount of THCA in cannabis can be desirable as its effects are different than those of THC.

Terpenoid Profiling

Along with cannabinoids, terpenoids and terpene compounds within cannabis products are quantified during a potency analysis. Terpenoids and terpenes give the scent and aroma to cannabis products. Knowing the amount of each of these compounds help in designing different products. These compounds also possess health benefits and therapeutic properties. There are over 140 different terpenes that may exist in cannabis. The analysis of terpenoids and terpenes is performed using GC-MS systems.

Common Cannabinoid Compounds
d9-THC d9-Tetrahydrocannabinoid
d8-THC d8-Tetrahydrocannabinoid
THCA d9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
THCV Tetrahydrocannabivarin
CBD Cannabidiol
CBDA Cannabidiolic acid
CBDV Cannabidivarin
CBG Cannabigerol
CBGA Cannabigerolic acid
CBN Cannabinol
CBC Cannabichromene
Common Terpenoids
Alpha Humulene
Beta caryophyllene
caryophyllene oxide


High Pressure Liquid Chromatography Systems

Potency Analysis

HPLC systems are used to quantify the potency of cannabis samples. They can measure the amount of THC, THCA, CBD, CDBA, CBN and other cannabinoids. HPLC is also a preferred method for mycotoxin screening.

Potency Analysis

Gas Chromatography Systems

GC systems can also be used to quantify the potency of cannabis samples by measuring cannabinoids, and terpenoids. GC-FID and GC-MS systems are used to screen for residual solvents and pesticides.

Potency Analysis

Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry Systems

GC-MS systems have a wide range of use for cannabis testing. A GC-MS is required for performing terpenoid profiling, and is a popular option for detecting residual solvents. For detecting chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates and pyrethroid type pesticides, a GC-MS system is well suited.

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