Understanding Medical Cannabis- 1. CannabisTech: Cannabis Testing For Potency And Terpenes 2. Ganjapreneur: Colorado Cannabis Sales in March Highest Yet in 2018 . Neutraceuticals World: American Botanical Council: Schedule 1 Status of Cannabis ‘Outdated and Inappropriate’

1. CannabisTech: Cannabis Testing For Potency And Terpenes

Learn the basics of gas and liquid chromatography and FTIR Spectroscopy for testing terpenes and potency within a strain.

What Is Gas Chromatography?

Gas chromatography is a subgroup of mass spectrometry. It is a group of separation techniques that are used to analyze volatile substances in their gas phase.
In gas chromatography, the components of a sample are dissolved using a solvent and vaporized in order to separate the analytes by distributing the sample between two phases: a stationary phase and a mobile phase.
The mobile phase is a chemically inert gas that serves to carry the analyte’s molecules through a heated column.
Gas chromatography is one of the few forms of chromatography that does not utilize the mobile phase to interact with the analyte.

For cannabis, gas chromatography is used to test samples for potency and efficacy.
In this context, potency refers to the ratio of common cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, as well as terpenes, which give cannabis strains their flavours and smells.
Terpenes also have their own medical and psychoactive properties but compared to the study of cannabinoids, terpene research for cannabis is still in its infancy.
With gas chromatography, growers can view the levels of various cannabinoids and terpenes to determine the effects of a strain in order to determine the best application or market for a strain.
In the case of medical cannabis, gas chromatography helps to determine which symptoms a strain is best suited to treat.
In the case of recreational cannabis, gas chromatography helps to determine the user’s experience, which is often categorized by ratios of Indica and Sativa.

What Is Liquid Chromatography?

Liquid chromatography is a technique used to separate a sample into individual parts.
This separation occurs based on the interactions of the sample with the mobile and stationary phases.
Because there are many stationary/mobile phase combinations that can be employed when separating a mixture, there are several different types of chromatography that are classified based on the physical states of those phases. Liquid is used to carry the sample through the spectrometer because of its ability to separate individual sections of a sample as a solvent.

Liquid and gas chromatography are both used to test strains for potency and efficacy.
The differentiator between the two is the physical state of the substance used to carry samples through the spectrometer. 

Intuvo 9000 GC For Potency And Terpene Testing

This model made by Agilent Technologies is a gas chromatograph system (That’s what the GC stands for) that was designed to be small and easy to use.
The unit uses a touchscreen interface and is smaller than most GC systems on the market.
This device is used to test the potency of strains and identify terpenes.

Datasheet (PDF)

1290 Infinity II LC For Terpene Testing

This model is a UHPLC, which stands for ultra-high performance liquid chromatography.
While I personally cringe at the use of a phrase like “ultra high performance” in scientific terminology, the term is technically accurate and was not coined by the device’s manufacturer, Agilent.
A UHPLC is essentially a liquid chromatography (LC) system that uses smaller samples than most LC systems and can process results faster.
The sensitivity of these LC systems make them well suited for testing terpenes.

UHPLC’s are not without their own set of drawbacks, however.
Because smaller particle samples are used, more care has to be taken during preparation in order to ensure that the samples are not contaminated.
UHPLC’s are fast and efficient but require an experienced operator.

Datasheet (PDF)

Cary 630 FTIR Spectrometer For Potency And Terpenes

FTIR stands for Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy.
Fourier transform is the process of decomposing a signal into the frequencies that combine to make that signal.
The process is similar to taking a musical chord and separating it into the individual notes that comprise it.
In the case of FTIR, the signal that goes through the Fourier transform process is the sample being exposed to infrared light.
Most molecules are “infrared active”, which means that they react in various ways when exposed to infrared light.
FTIR systems can test samples that are in solid, gas, or liquid states.

In the case of cannabis, FTIR systems are used to find optimum ratios and schedules for lighting and watering in order to maximize potency (PDF).
An FTIR system can also test strain samples in different physicals states.
This allows growers to see the composition of cannabinoids and terpenes in solid and gas form.
Many cannabinoids and terpenes have different decarboxylation points, which means that some methods of consumption can be better than others for different strains.
Choosing between smoking, vaporizing, eating, skin exposure or even drinking as an optimum form of consumption will vary based on the composition and desired application of strain.
An FTIR system can help growers determine the best proverbial “package for their product”.

This particular model has a small central unit (About the size of a small toaster) that has different attachments based on the matter states of samples.

Datasheet (PDF)


2. Ganjapreneur: Colorado Cannabis Sales in March Highest Yet in 2018

According to Colorado state Department of Revenue data, cannabis sales in March reached $105,945,278 — up from $85,869,215 in February and $88,729,914 in January.
In the first three months of 2018, cannabis sales in the state have totaled $365,686,695.

Denver County led the state in sales: the county totaled $34,757,371 in March.
Arapahoe County, whose largest city is Aurora, ranked second with $9,956,392 in sales; followed by Boulder County ($7,245,363); Adams County ($6,602,994); and Larimer County ($5,839,729).

Medical cannabis sales reached $29,238,678 in March, up from $26,640,302 in February, but down slightly from the $29,263,308 in January.

Monthly sales in the state have surpassed the monthly figures from 2017, which were $92,912,147 in March; $75,665,966 in February; and $76,018,423 in January.

However, medical sales in 2017 were significantly higher than this year: $37,451,683 in March; $31,074,413 in February; and $31,712,608 in January.

Since the program’s launch in January 2014, cannabis sales in Colorado have totaled $4,859,707,381.
The state applies its 2.9 percent sales tax to both medical and recreational cannabis sales along with a 15 percent tax on retail sales.
Municipalities are also allowed to set their own tax rates which range from 0.01 percent to 7.25 percent.


3. Neutraceuticals World: American Botanical Council: Schedule 1 Status of Cannabis ‘Outdated and Inappropriate’

Non-profit recommends action to enable access of cannabis and its components for medicinal investigations.

The non-profit American Botanical Council (ABC) recently submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noting “that more clinical and other research into the medicinal properties of cannabis is warranted, and that the Schedule 1 status of cannabis is one of the most significant impediments to carry out such research.”
ABC’s submission was in response to the FDA’s request for “comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use” of five substances: cannabis plant and resin; extracts and tinctures of cannabis; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); stereoisomers of THC; and cannabidiol (CBD).The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will take the public comments into consideration as the HHS prepares its response to a request for information from the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the FDA, the WHO “will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs.”
In its comments, ABC emphasized that cannabis’s Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 is outdated and inappropriate.
A Schedule 1 drug or substance is defined as having (A) “a high potential for abuse”; (B) “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States”; and (C) “a lack of accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.”
“In 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was enacted, reliable information on the medical value of cannabis was relatively scarce,” the non-profit noted in its comments.
“This has changed over the past years, where a number of clinical studies have been carried out to evaluate cannabis, and cannabis isolates, for a variety of conditions and ailments.”
In the comments sent to the FDA, ABC provided short summaries with evidence of the benefits of cannabis, and cannabis fractions enriched in CBD, or THC and CBD, as therapeutic agents in the treatment of pain, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.
The data included are based on a literature review, including a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published between 2015 and 2018.
The publications substantiate that cannabis preparations have significant medical benefits.

ABC concluded: “Based on the promising results from the human studies on cannabis, the current hurdles to investigate cannabis, cannabis extracts, and purified fractions obtained from cannabis, as promising ingredients for a number of medical issues do not seem appropriate in view of the potential benefits that this plant might provide.
Therefore, [ABC] recommends that cannabis be removed from Schedule I from the Controlled Substances Act and that other appropriate actions are undertaken to enable more appropriate access of cannabis and its components for medicinal investigations.”

The FDA notice explains that HHS will simply provide an evaluation of the five substances, not a recommendation for their scheduling, to the WHO, which will conduct a “pre-review” of the evidence during a special session on cannabis and cannabis-related substances at the 40th meeting of the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 4-8, 2018.

ABC’s comments were written by ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD.
A copy of ABC’s comments to the FDA is available here.

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