The legal cannabis industry in the United States is currently experiencing a boom in economic growth, even though it is still illegal at the federal level and in about one-third of the states. To date, the industry in the U.S. hasbecome a nearly $11 billion business – a figure that is predicted to double by 2022. In Colorado alone, taxes, licenses and fees has exceeded $244 million. It is also a boon for scientists, specifically analytical chemists, as testing facilities and instrument companies sprout up nationwide.
Cannabis is one of the oldest sources of textile fiber, food, and psychotropic substances. Cannabinoids are the main biologically active constituents of the Cannabis genus, with a demonstrated medicinal value. Its production is becoming legalized and regulated in many countries, thus increasing the need for a rapid analysis method to assess the content of cannabinoids. Historically, gas chromatography has been the preferred analytical method for the determination of certain compounds, though it is a slow and costly process. Analyzing cannabis with near spectroscopy (NIR) has the potential for the quantitative prediction of quality parameters, and also of pharmacologically active compounds. The goal of this present research is to develop a fast, economical, robust and environmentally friendly method based on NIR technology, allowing the quantification of the main cannabinoids present in Cannabis sativa L.
Spectroscopy, primarily in the electromagnetic spectrum, is a fundamental exploratory tool in the fields of physics, chemistry, and astronomy,allowing the composition, physical structure and electronic structure of matter to be investigated at atomic scale, molecular scale, macro scale, and over astronomical distances.
With the many different ways spectroscopy is used, ensuring that your equipment is designed with the correct lens is where we come in. At Universe Optics, we work alongside your developers to design and manufacture a precision lens for analyzing cannabis with near infrared spectroscopy.
With increasing legalization of both adult recreational and medical cannabis, there is a need for robust and reliable analytical testing to ensure consumer safety. Places of interest where near infrared spectroscopy can help with analyzing data in relationship to: cannabinoids, terpenes, residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and microorganisms.
According to Bob Clifford, the general manager of marketing for Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, which has a North American headquarters in Columbia, MD “Cannabis is a complex plant with more than 500 compounds, and every state and country has different testing requirements.”
Shimadzu, a Japanese company, has helped set up ISO-certified, independent cannabis testing labs in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, in March 2017, the company launched a new product, the Cannabis Analyzer for Potency. An HPLC system with UV spectroscopic detection, the instrument capitalizes on the growth of the industry and gives growers and producers potency information on their products and plant material.
Beyond analyzing cannabis, the hemp industry is a growing market for spectroscopic devices. In many ways, the legal hemp industry seeks an outcome opposite to that of the cannabis industry — that is, to cultivate plants with lower, not higher, amounts of euphoric cannabinoids.
In the past few years, the cannabis industry has matured from naïve exuberance to a more staid and reliable approach that craves legitimacy. With that, comes the necessity of more reliable, consistent data. Analysis using NIR is one of the biggest steps in that direction.