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23 May 2019

Helping to bridge the gap between cannabis, science and medicine – News from the Cannabis Science Conference

By Dr Matthew Edwards (Business Development, Americas)

The inaugural east coast edition of the Cannabis Science Conference (CSC East) took place on April 9-10 this year, in Baltimore, Maryland. The meeting and exposition brought together a diverse group of individuals interested in the promotion, regulation and of course the consumption of cannabis and its many products.

Since 2016 this meeting has been held in Portland, Oregon. The creation of a duplicate meeting on America’s east coast coincides closely with recent legislation to legalize medical cannabis in states such as Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It would seem more and more states are following in the footsteps of their west coast cousins on the route to legal recreational consumption of cannabis.

CSC aims to ‘bridge the gap between cannabis, science and medicine’. With such a broad objective, the meeting attracts a variety of stakeholders including analytical scientists, physicians, instrument vendors, investors, lawyers, security agencies, cultivation experts and regulatory agencies to name a few.

Trending cannabis topics

Apart from my own session on using GC×GC for improved data, sessions within the analytical stream included:

  • Better Testing: The Path to Better Cannabis.
    Reginald Gaudino, PhD, President, Steep Hill Laboratories
  • Why Lab Testing Matters from a Physician’s Perspective
    Dr. Andrew Rosenstein, CEO, Steep Hill Labs
  • Overcoming the Challenges Associated with Pesticide Analysis of Cannabis Samples with LC–MS to Ensure Patient Safety.
    Dr. Toby Astill, Senior Business Manager for Cannabis & Hemp Markets, PerkinElmer, Inc.
  • Avoiding Mass Confusion During Cannabis Analysis.
    Bob Clifford, General Manager, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments
  • Multidimensional Online Sample Preparation and LC–MS/MS Bioanalytical Determination of Tetrahydrocannabinol and Its two main Metabolites in Human Dried Plasma Spots.
    Dr. Jack Henion, CSO, Advion, Inc.

Topics particularly on our minds were pending standardised methodologies and legally sharing certified reference materials across both state and international borders. Being a listed narcotic federally, but legal across many states, presents unique complications, which are new to many in this emerging industry. What are the best practice methods for cannabinoid analysis? How many terpenes should we evaluate and report? How many pesticides so we need to look for and report? To what limit? One can feel as if there are more questions than answers.

Comparison of terpene profiles using GC×GC–TOF MS  

On the first day of the meeting I was provided the opportunity to speak in the analytical track about the SepSolve approach to terpene analysis. The talk was well attended and for some this was their first experience learning about multidimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC). Most often analysts will use a GC-FID or GC-MS approach to speciating up to 30 terpenes within their extracts or headspace.

My goal in the presentation was to highlight the numerous coelutions that are present within a complex sample like cannabis. Unfortunately for analysts using the single column approach, these coelutions lead to incorrectly reporting, sometimes by a wide margin, the concentration of many of their terpenes. I asked the audience how much quality data meant to them and how concerned they were with correctly reporting terpenes. Based on conversations I had with attendees after my talk I am encouraged that many individuals are in fact very interested in reporting quality terpene data. Consensus remains that standardised testing will of course be necessary to hold laboratories to account. If you’d like to find our more, send me an email.

Overall CSC remains an opportunity to learn from a diverse group of attendees. There is a shared feeling of excitement around the opportunity to help shape the future of this emerging field, and I’m looking forward to the next one this September (4th through 6th) in Oregon.

Complete the form below to download my poster – Confident profiling of cannabis terpenes by flow-modulated GC×GC

SepSolve Poster - CSC 2019


Dr Matt Edwards

Dr. Matthew Edwards studied analytical chemistry at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, with particular emphasis on multidimensional separations. Matt remains based in Waterloo, from where he oversees the development of new markets and opportunities in the Americas, as well as providing technical and sales support for SepSolve Analytical.

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