Cannabis belongs to a class of flowering plants famous for its psychoactive properties and recreational uses. Cannabis sativa is the most widely used variety of the plant; other forms such as Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis are also popular in different regions. In earlier times, cannabis was used primarily for recreational purposes, however, medical applications of the plant have been surfaced over the time. The primary active ingredient of the plant, cannabinoids, on interaction with endocannabinoid system in the body, have been proven to provide relief from severe chronic pain, associated with various medical conditions, including the advanced stages of certain illnesses like AIDS and cancer. However, the psychoactive properties of the herb make its consumption illegal across various jurisdictions. Follwoing this, many cannabis testing service providers have emerged over the last decade alone to establish a safer consumption of the plant.
Adverse Effects of Cannabis
Although the plant has proven therapeutic efficacy in treating several medical conditions, the unsupervised consumption of the herb may pose a significant threat to the consumer’s health. These adverse effects can include chances of psychosis and addiction related to the prolonged usage of the plant. However, owing to the increased legalization for the use of medical cannabis, players offering cannabis testing services, robust instrumentation, software and consumables have entered this domain over the years.
Cannabis as a Medicinal Plant: Key Component of Safety Assessment
Medical cannabis is a rising star in the healthcare domain. In fact, owing to the various therapeutic applications, the government in different nations have legalized various pharmaceutical compositions containing cannabis for medical use.
The following figure presents the therapeutic effects of cannabis and side effects of cannabis.
However, although the plant holds a significant therapeutic potential, side-effects of cannabis including impaired motor functions, hallucinations, and addiction cannot be overlooked. The following figure presents the therapeutic effects and side effects of cannabis.
What are Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are a class of chemical compounds exclusively found in the cannabis plant. Over 480 unique chemical components are found in the plant, more than 70 of which, are categorised as cannabinoids. Cannabis-infused products primarily contain the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is main psychoactive cannabinoid, which is used in recreational products.
What are Terpenes
Terpenes are a class of aromatic compounds, found in essential oils produced by many plant species. These compounds show an anti-plasmodial activity which is amongst the prime focus areas for researchers. Terpenes such as pinene and humulene are known to have anti-depressant, anti-cancer as well as stress reducing properties. Cannabis contains over 140 different types of terpenes that are believed to improve its therapeutic potential. Terpenes and cannabinoids when used together, provide a stronger response as compared to their individual applications.
Which Countries have Legalized the Use of Medical Cannabis?
The market for cannabis-infused products is growing like weed. The legalization of the plant for medical and recreational applications has led to profound growth of this market across the globe. Over 70 nations worldwide have legalized medical cannabis, while 10 such countries have also approved recreational use of the plant. Examples of countries that have legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey, Uruguay, the US and Zimbabwe. Following the growing demand for medical and recreational cannabis, many other nations, are being strongly persuaded to legalize the plant. Owin to this fact, the growth of the cannabis testing market is also expected to be substantial, as new product manufacturers enter the industry.
Diverse Range of Cannabis Products and Equal Number of Challenges
The illegal cannabis sources, continue to be the primary choice of medical cannabis for the users. In fact, the dispensaries providing medical grade cannabis often have poor quality and lack the proper composition for the cannabis-infused products, risking consumer health. In addition, contaminants, including microbes, pesticides, residual solvents and heavy metals are other safety concerns. In order to deal with these challenges, cannabis testing labs and service providers have emerged to aid the product manufacturers to comply with the standards for quality, safety and labelling.
The following figure presents the needs for cannabis testing.
The following figure presents the steps of cannabis testing.
Applications of Cannabis Testing
Cannabis testing applications primarily include determination of cannabinoid potency and contaminant testing of the product sample. Moreover, recreational products such as vape pens and edibles are tested for vitamin E acetate residues to ensure consumer safety. Cannabis testing is also done to identify the plant genotype used to develop the product, providing transparency to the consumers. In addition, analyzing the moisture content of the product allows the developers to estimate the product shelf life. Laboratories across the globe offer cannabis testing services to these product manufacturers and cultivators, ensuring consumer safety.
The following figure presents the applications of cannabis testing.
In the recent years, the cannabis testing market has witnessed various innovations, in terms of testing equipment as well as integration of software solutions in the laboratory workflow. Novel techniques, like chromatographic methods in parallel with UV spectrometric analysis improve the overall accuracy and sensitivity of the analytical assays. Moreover, integration of laboratory information management systems (LIMS) enables better customer relationship management, enterprise resource management, and overall product outcomes.
Future Perspective of Cannabis Testing
Many nations worldwide have already legalized the medical use of cannabis, while countries like the US, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada have also legalized the recreational use of the plant. Owing to the wide array of therapeutic applications of the plant, the legalization of cannabis across the globe is likely to witness a notable growth in the foreseen future. Moreover, the demand for different cannabis-infused products and the plant itself will also rise substantially.
You can also download the SAMPLE REPORT on cannabis testing by Roots Analysis..