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Analytical Methodologies & Instrumentation

Our investment in the cannabis industry runs deep.
To increase the reliability and accuracy of our cannabis testing catalogue and keep pace with the emerging market, we have invested over significantly in state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation, processes and people over the last two years.

Cannabis testing and intelligence at market-leading speed, supported by the latest laboratory methods and instrumentation.

With over 40 years experience in highly regulated markets, our scientific teams are skilled at developing and validating methods for today’s complex and rapidly evolving cannabis and hemp products.

With GMP Certified, ISO/IEC 17025:2107 Accredited and Health Canada licensed testing facilities across Canada, our analytical methods have been validated and verified as suitable for a range of cannabis matrices such as dry flower, extracts, and a variety of edibles and beverages, and emissions from new generation vape products.

Analytical Instrumentation

High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

Gas Chromatography (GC) with Headspace Analyzers and Flame Ionization Detectors (FID)

Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS-MS, LC-MS, GC-MS, and GC-MS-MS)

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Titrations (Acid, Base and Inorganic)

Rapid Microbial Enumeration

Water Activity

Nutritional Panels (Automated Protein, Total Fat, Total Fibre)

Homogenization (Genogrinder, Freezer Mill)

Rapid Microbial (Petri Film)

Cannabis & Hemp Analytical Methods

Cannabinoid Potency

Under the Cannabis Act, each batch or lot of cannabis and/or cannabis product must be tested for potency and the seller must report the total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content on the product label.  

Our labs employ a high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) procedure to obtain the total THC and CBD content while also quantifying the following:

Cannabinoid Potency Analysis includes:
Cannabinoid Acids

  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
  • Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)

Cannabinoids

  • Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC)
  • Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarol (THCV)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)

Terpene Profiling

Although terpene profiling is not required by Health Canada, we know the terpene profile of a particular cannabis cultivar is a unique fingerprint and thus critical to your finished product’s performance and quality.

Our labs utilize comprehensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analytical methods capable of profiling arrays of both mono- and sesquiterpenes. 

We’re currently testing for the following 44 terpenes:
  • α-pinene 
  • camphene 
  • β-pinene 
  • myrcene 
  • Δ3-carene 
  • α-terpinene 
  • p-cymene 
  • limonene 
  • β-ocimene (isomers) 
  • γ-terpinene 
  • terpinolene 
  • linalool 
  • isopulegol 
  • geraniol 
  • β-caryophyllene 
  • humulene 
  • nerolidol 
  • guaiol 
  • α-bisabolol 
  • eucalyptol 
  • caryophyllene oxide 
  • α-phellandrene 
  • sabinene hydrate 
  • camphor 
  • fenchol 
  • borneol 
  • α-terpineol 
  • sabinene 
  • carvone isomers ((+)-carvone and R-(-) carvone) 
  • dihydrocarvone 
  • pulegone 
  • terpineol-4-ol 
  • fenchone 
  • geranyl acetate 
  • aromadendrene 
  • cedrol 
  • globulol 
  • ledene (isomers) 
  • viridiflorol 
  • trans-β-farnesene 
  • valencene 
  • nerol 
  • β-elemene 
  • β-eudesmol

Trace Cannabinoids

In some jurisdictions, certain products require confirmation of the absence of certain cannabinoids (ie. >3%THC hemp). Our labs utilize liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) methods capable of quantifying 14 cannabinoids to trace levels.

Analysis includes the following cannabinoids:
  • THCA
  • CBDA
  • CBGA
  • 9-THC
  • 8-THC
  • CBD
  • CBG
  • CBC
  • THCV
  • CBN
  • CBDV
  • CBDVA
  • THCVA
  • CBCA

Pesticide Residues

Under the Cannabis Act, Health Canada has mandated that 96 specific pesticides and fungicides must be absent in cannabis and cannabis products.

Our labs screen for all 96 of these banned pesticides and fungicides, using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) and gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS) instruments that have been validated to meet or exceed the detection limits mandated by Health Canada.

The following pesticides are included in our screen:
  • Abamectin
  • Acephate
  • Acequinocyl
  • Acetamiprid
  • Aldicarb
  • Allethrin
  • Azadirachtin
  • Azoxystrobin
  • Benzovindiflupyr
  • Bifenazate
  • Bifenthrin
  • Boscalid
  • Buprofezin
  • Carbaryl
  • Carbofuran
  • Chlorantraniliprole
  • Chlorphenapyr
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Clofentezine
  • Clothianidin
  • Coumaphos
  • Cyantraniliprole
  • Cyfluthrin
  • Cypermethrin
  • Cyprodinil
  • Daminozide
  • Deltamethrin
  • Diazinon
  • Dichlorvos
  • Dimethoate
  • Dimethomorph
  • Dinotefuran
  • Dodemorph
  • Endosulfan sulfate
  • Endosulfan-alpha
  • Endosulfan-beta
  • Ethoprophos
  • Etofenprox
  • Etoxazole
  • Etridiazole
  • Fenoxycarb
  • Fenpyroximate
  • Fensulfothion
  • Fenthion
  • Fenvalerate
  • Fipronil
  • Flonicamid
  • Fludioxonil
  • Fluopyram
  • Hexythiazox
  • Imazalil
  • Imidacloprid
  • Iprodione
  • Kinoprene
  • Kresoxim-methyl
  • Malathion
  • Metalaxyl
  • Methiocarb
  • Methomyl
  • Methoprene
  • Mevinphos
  • MGK-264
  • Myclobutanil
  • Naled
  • Novaluron
  • Oxamyl
  • Paclobutrazol
  • Parathion-methyl
  • Permethrin
  • Phenothrin
  • Phosmet
  • Piperonyl butoxide
  • Pirimicarb
  • Prallethrin
  • Propiconazole
  • Propoxur
  • Pyraclostrobin
  • Pyrethrins
  • Pyridaben
  • Quintozene
  • Resmethrin
  • Spinetoram
  • Spinosad
  • Spirodiclofen
  • Spiromesifen
  • Spirotetramat
  • Spiroxamine
  • Tebuconazole
  • Tebufenozide
  • Teflubenzuron
  • Tetrachlorvinphos
  • Tetramethrin
  • Thiacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Thiophanate-methyl
  • Trifloxystrobin

Residual Solvents

The presence of residual solvents and/or volatile organic impurities can be verified and quantified using headspace GC-MS/headspace GC-FID. Our method is capable of identifying and quantifying all Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 solvents specified in USP <467> Residual Solvents.

The following solvents can be quantified:

Class 1

  • Benzene
  • Carbon tetrachloride,
  • 1,2-Dichloroethane,
  • 1,1-Dichloroethane
  • 1,1,1-Trichloroethane

Class 2

  • Acetonitrile,
  • Chlorobenzene,
  • Chloroform,
  • Cyclohexane
  • 1,2-Dichloroethane
  • 1,2-Dimethoxyethane
  • N,N-Dimethylacetamide
  • N,N-Dimethylformamide
  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • 2-Ethoxyethanol
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Formamide
  • Hexane
  • Methanol
  • 2-Methoxyethanol
  • Methylbutylketone
  • Methylcylohexane
  • Methylene chloride
  • N-Methylpyrrolidone
  • Nitromethane
  • Pyridine
  • Sulfolane
  • Tetrahydrofuran
  • Tetralin
  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Xylene

Class 3

  • Acetic acid
  • Acetone
  • Anisole
  • 1-Butanol
  • 2-Butanol
  • Butyl acetate
  • tert-Butylmethyl ether
  • Cumene
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Ethyl ether
  • Ethyl formate
  • Formic acid
  • Heptane
  • Isobutyl acetate
  • Isopropyl acetate
  • Methyl acetate
  • 3-Methyl-1-butanol
  • Methylethylketone
  • Methylisobutylketone
  • 2-Methyl-1-propanol
  • Pentane
  • 1-Pentanol
  • 1-Propanol
  • 2-Propanol
  • Propyl acetate

Mycotoxins (Aflatoxins)

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi organisms. Aflatoxins are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. These toxins are known to be mutagenic, suppress the human immune system, and have been linked to liver cancers. Our labs use an LC/MS/MS method capable of quantifying the Aflatoxins: B1, B2, G1, and G2 to the levels specified in USP <561> Articles of Botanical Origin. We can also quantify Ochratoxin A upon request.

Heavy Metals

Utilizing ICP-MS instrumentation to detect heavy metals to trace levels, our method is capable of quantifying the four mandated heavy metals: arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead. Additional elemental impurities are available upon request. Our test method meets the full requirements of USP<232> Elemental Impurities-Limits.

Microbial Examination

We offer a suite of microbiological tests designed to meet Health Canada’s prescribed limits as set forth in USP<2023>. The enumeration of total aerobic microbial counts, total yeast and mould counts, and bile-tolerant Gram-negative bacteria are reported. The absences of Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp. contaminants are confirmed.

Foreign Matter

Using a microscope, our technicians will provide a report on foreign materials in the sample. Under microscope magnification, we look for hair, fibres, insects, other vermin, pebbles and more.

Viscosity

We measure viscosity according to USP<1911>, “Rheometry.”  In this method, the Newtonian viscosity is measured using a capillary viscometer. By measuring the time it takes for the Newtonian fluid to travel through the capillary apparatus, the viscosity can be accurately determined over a range of viscosities.

Vitamin E Acetate

We have developed and validated HPLC-UV assays capable of detecting Vitamin E (tocopherols) and Vitamin E Acetate (tocopherol acetate) to low levels, assuring you these two potential adulterants are absent from your vape products.

Nutritional Panels

Nutritional Facts labels are produced in compliance with Health Canada regulations for the nutritional labeling of cannabis edible products.

Nutritional panels require the following testing:
  • Total Fat / Trans-Fats / Saturated Fats
  • Sugars / Carbohydrates
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Cholesterol
  • Calcium
  • Calories
  • Moisture
  • Iron
  • Dietary Fibre

Shelf-life & Stability Studies

Understanding the shelf-life of your product helps determine the time it will remain safe and palatable in the packaging you’ve chosen. This allows you to assess the packaging configuration and its impact on the shelf-life of the product. 25°C / 60% RH and 40°C / 75% RH conditions, refrigerated and frozen conditions can also be performed.

Water Activity

Water activity is one of the most important parameters to measure food safety. Specifically, water activity is a measure of the free water, not bound to ions or the surfaces of large molecules, in a food product. This free water is available to support microbial growth, and can also contribute to chemical and enzymatic reactions and spoilage processes. The lower the water activity, the less free water available to affect the stability of your product.

pH

pH is the measure of the acidity of a product in solution. Specifically, pH measures the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity and the higher the pH, the more basic a solution is. The pH of foods will foremost impact the taste, as high-acidity foods taste sour. The biochemical effect of food pH is the effect pH has on microbial growth, which is the predominant mechanism of food spoilage. Most of these microorganisms grow best under neutral conditions.

Water Content

Water content in extracts and concentrates is determined by Karl-Fischer titration.

Moisture

Gravimetric moisture test that determines the percent moisture per weight of the sample.