Chocolate blurs cannabis potency tests

Components of chocolate could interfere with cannabis potency testing

Cannabis-based edibles, such as gummy bears, cookies and chocolates have flooded the edible market in the legalized states. These sweet treats have created significant headaches for scientists trying to analyze them for potency and contaminants. Researchers report now that the components of chocolate could interfere with tests for cannabis potency, leading to inaccurate results.

Cannabis-infused chocolate presents problems for potency testing

The American Chemical Society is the largest scientific society in the world, it is a nonprofit organization accredited by the United States Congress. ACS is the world leader in access to information and research in chemistry through its multiple databases, its peer-reviewed journals and its scientific conferences. The ACS does not conduct research, but publishes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are located in Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

Following this discovery, the researchers will present their results to the American Chemical Society (ACS) in the fall of 2019. The EA will hold its meeting which will include more than 9500 presentations on a wide range of scientific topics.

“My research is focused on potency testing of cannabis because of the high stakes associated with it,” says David Dawson, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the project. “If an edible cannabis product tests 10% below the amount stated on the label, California law says it must be relabeled, with considerable time and expense. But it's even worse if a product tests 10% or more above the amount stated on the label - then the entire batch must be destroyed. "

Manufacturers add cannabis to a wide variety of foods, and the composition of these products, also known as the “matrix”, can affect the results of potency tests. Dawson and his colleagues at CW Analytical Laboratories decided to focus on activity testing for cannabis infused chocolates because it is a very common product. CW Analytical Laboratories is a cannabis analysis lab in Oakland, Calif., Where recreational marijuana became legal in 2018. “We also noticed, anecdotally, some bizarre potency variations depending on how we got it. prepared the chocolate samples for analysis, ”he says. Dawson therefore studied the effects of changing sample preparation conditions, such as amounts of chocolate and solvent, pH, and type of chocolate, on the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC; the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis) measured by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

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Their results were surprising. “When we had less cannabis infused chocolate in the sample vial, say 1 gram, we would get higher THC concentrations and more accurate values ​​than when we had 2 grams of the same infused chocolate in the vial,” says Dawson. “This goes against what I consider to be a basic statistical representation of samples, where one would assume that the more samples you have, the more representative they are of the whole. These results suggest that another component of chocolate (a matrix effect) would suppress the signal for Δ9-THC.

“Simply changing the amount of sample in the vial could determine whether a sample passes or fails, which could have a huge impact on the producer of the chocolate bars, as well as the customer who could be under-dosed. or overdosed due to this weird quirk of matrix effects, ”he notes.

Matrix effect

Now Dawson is trying to figure out which ingredient in chocolate is responsible for the matrix effects. He tried adding a standard Δ9-THC solution with varying amounts of chocolate bars, cocoa powder, baked chocolate, and white chocolate, all of which have different components, and observing how the signal HPLC changes. “Our best lead right now is that it has something to do with fat, which makes sense given that Δ9-THC is fat soluble,” says Dawson.

The team would like to expand their analyzes to other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive substance that is present in many edible products. In addition, they plan to study other food matrices, such as chocolate chip cookies. Dawson hopes the research will contribute to the development of standardized methods for assessing the potency of cannabis in a variety of edible products. “We owe this research to the scientific community, producers and consumers,” he says. “We need to be able to provide very precise and precise tests on a wide range of dies. "

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Cannabis-infused chocolate may interfere with the accuracy of third-party testing of cannabinoid levels required in many jurisdictions

This possibility, exposed in a new study 2020, highlights the need for the cannabis industry to develop precise analytical techniques to provide accurate potency and contamination tests to ensure the safety of medical and recreational products.

Researchers at CW Analytical Laboratories in Oakland, Calif., Found that when a standard amount of THC was mixed with different amounts of chocolate - either milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or cocoa powder - the THC content of the mixture appeared to be significantly below the known concentration, especially for milk chocolate and dark chocolate.

In other words, the more chocolate used in the mixture, the less THC recovered from the test. This interference from chocolate - known to analyst chemists as a matrix effect - has also been observed for cannabinol, but not for CBD or cannabigerol, which may be due to structural differences between these cannabinoids. In states in the United States where cannabis is legal, cannabis products must be tested for their cannabinoid potency.

In California, for example, growers must test the levels of six cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, before sale. If the quantity does not differ by more than 10% from that stated on the label, the product must be relabelled or destroyed, resulting in significant additional costs.

Although the amount of interference observed between chocolate and cannabinoids was low enough in this study not to cause a product to fail, it underscores the importance of developing standardized tests for cannabis products. .

Unfortunately, given the mosaic of laws from state to state, there are no standard protocols that third-party labs can follow to test all of the different types of products, including cannabis-infected chocolates, currently on. the market.

Unlike the food industry, where precise and accurate chemical analyzes are common, the legal cannabis industry is in the early stages of developing such standard techniques.

Tags : chocolateConsumptionScreening
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