Cannabinoid analysis
of hemp products

What types of hemp prod­ucts are there?

The produc­tion and use of hemp-containing food­stuffs (from commer­cial hemp / Cannabis sativa) has increased enor­mously in recent years. Consumers can legally buy hemp seeds, oils, hemp-containing teas and other hemp-containing bever­ages as well as hemp protein powder in super­mar­kets. Cosmetics and grooming prod­ucts, as well as pet food, can also be infused with cannabis and purchased on the market.

CBD (cannabidiol) prod­ucts are sold in the form of oils, chewing gum, creams, gels, or gummy bears. CBD prod­ucts must also be approved by the EU Commission.

In addi­tion, since 2017, general prac­ti­tioners or special­ists can also prescribe medi­c­inal cannabis in the form of e.g. flowers or extracts in stan­dard­ized quality.

Legal situ­a­tion

The legal situ­a­tion of cannabis, THC or CBD is eval­u­ated and decided nation­ally. More and more coun­tries are legal­izing the use of medical cannabis.

  • In Germany, all forms of cannabis are consid­ered illegal, except for the so-called useful hemp (poor in cannabi­noids), which may be culti­vated with a license and also used in food.
  • In the USA, cannabis is being legal­ized in more and more states. This is decided at the federal level. Medical use of cannabis is already allowed in a majority of states.

CBD (cannabidiol) prod­ucts are legal if they are derived from commer­cial hemp and contain less than 0.2% THC (in Germany).

If the content of THC is higher than 0.2% and CBD is extracted from cannabis sativa, these prod­ucts fall under the narcotics law. Only a prescrip­tion from a doctor is then legal.

Why are analyses necessary?

Different appli­ca­tion possi­bil­i­ties, different ways of extracting cannabis and corre­spond­ingly different contents of THC and CBD require profes­sional analyses of hemp prod­ucts. Depending on the level of THC and the method of extrac­tion, the product can be clas­si­fied as novel food, food, medical product, phar­ma­ceu­tical or dietary supplement.

Accord­ingly, it is neces­sary to perform the appro­priate analyses so that you as a manu­fac­turer can safely place your cannabis product on the market. This way, you can offer your customers a high-quality and clean product and also prove this by a certifi­cate of analysis.

Special chal­lenges in the analysis of hemp products

In order to be allowed to analyze prod­ucts containing hemp, it is neces­sary to obtain a license from the Federal Opium Agency, as the active ingre­dient THC is a narcotic.

A special chal­lenge in the analysis of hemp prod­ucts is the deter­mi­na­tion of the cannabi­noid profiles. Special and, above all, precise analysis methods are neces­sary in order to differ­en­tiate between the various profiles, some of which are very similar.

Example: CBD and CBG are cannabi­noids, but they have different effects and prop­er­ties. Their sepa­ra­tion is a big analyt­ical chal­lenge for many labo­ra­to­ries that have not devel­oped a corre­sponding method.

For this reason, it is essen­tial to have a compe­tent labo­ra­tory partner who is able to distin­guish between the two profiles mentioned above and who can also deter­mine the other profiles such as THCV, CBC or CBL.

The Tentamus labo­ra­to­ries have devel­oped a special analysis method for this purpose, which makes it possible to deter­mine many cannabi­noid profiles. A detailed list can be found in the next section.

Cannabinoid Profile

Cannabi­noids are among the most impor­tant biolog­i­cally active substances of cannabis and hemp plants. There are more than 80O of these chem­ical alka­loids. The focus here is mainly the THC due to its prop­er­ties. The second most common active ingre­dient is CBD. Since some of them have phar­ma­co­log­ical and medi­c­inal effects, it is impor­tant to deter­mine the most abun­dant cannabinoids.

As the number of hemp prod­ucts increases, more detailed analyses, such as cannabi­noid profile analysis, become neces­sary. This is done after extrac­tion by HPLC with UV detec­tion at 225nm and 306nm. This type of analytics is specif­i­cally tailored to cannabi­noid profiles and thus provides fast and reli­able results.

Our labo­ra­to­ries special­ized in cannabis can analyze the following cannabi­noid profiles for you:

  • CBC (Cannabichromene)
  • CBC‑A (cannabichromic acid)
  • CBD (cannabidiol)
  • CBD‑A (cannabidiol acid)
  • CBDV (cannabidi­varin)
  • CBDV‑A (cannabidi­varic acid)
  • CBG (cannabigerol)
  • CBG‑A (cannabigerolic acid)
  • CBL (cannabi­cy­clol)
  • CBN (cannabinol)
  • D8-THC (Δ8-tetrahy­dro­cannabinol)
  • D9-THC (Δ9-tetrahy­dro­cannabinol)
  • THC‑A (Δ9-tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nolic acid)
  • THCV (tetrahy­dro­cannabi­varin)
  • THCV‑A (tetrahy­dro­cannabi­varic acid)

tentamus hemp CBD analysis add weed Bu6BSErSL M unsplash

THC analysis

THC (d9-THC / tetrahy­dro­cannabinol) is a substance found in the dried, resinous flowers of the female hemp plant (mari­juana). It has a psychoac­tive effect and falls under the Narcotics Act in Germany from a content of 0.2%. They are allowed for medical or ther­a­peutic treat­ments. Mari­juana can be smoked under the above mentioned condi­tions or consumed in capsules or tinctures.

For the analysis of prod­ucts containing THC, a special approval by the Federal Opium Agency is neces­sary. This approval is avail­able to our labo­ra­to­ries and thus enables the analysis of cannabis products.

The spec­trum of analysis includes tests of the DAB (German Phar­ma­copoeia) and Ph. Eur (Phar­ma­copoea Europaea) as well as the deter­mi­na­tion of the content of cannabi­noids and impu­ri­ties by, for example, pesti­cides, myco­toxins, heavy metals or micro­bi­o­log­ical germs.

Which analyses are used to deter­mine THC?

  • Potency test: Simpli­fied analysis of THC content
  • Cannabi­noid profile analysis: Detailed analysis of cannabinoids

CBD analysis

CBD (cannabidiol) is the second most common active ingre­dient in cannabis and is often used in the treat­ment of sleep disor­ders, anxiety, or chronic pain, as well as for seda­tion. Again, use is legal when the CDB is derived from commer­cial hemp and contains less than 0.2% THC.

Further­more, according to current EU law, these CBD prod­ucts are consid­ered as novel and accord­ingly as Novel Food (Novel Food Regu­la­tion, VO (EU) 2015/2283). Before novel foods can be placed on the market, they must be approved by the EU Commission.

Due to the calming and anti-inflam­ma­tory effect, CBD oils and balms are also used for pets.

To ensure that your product can be marketed safely and in compli­ance with the law, the following labo­ra­tory analyses should be carried out:

  • Labeling test including veri­fi­ca­tion of health claims
  • THC analysis or
  • Cannabi­noid profile analysis
  • Residue and cont­a­m­i­na­tion analysis (pesti­cides, heavy metals, myco­toxins etc.)

We would be happy to advise you in a further discus­sion about indi­vidual analysis options for your product.

Analysis for useful hemp products

Hemp seeds, hemp protein powder and co. – more and more prod­ucts containing hemp fill our super­market shelves and are becoming increas­ingly popular among consumers. Also, for four-legged friends, more and more prod­ucts (e.g. hemp oils or treats) are coming onto the market, which are supposed to provide more well-being and shiny fur.

However, in order for cannabis to be used as a food product, the content of psychoac­tive substances must be very low and the prod­ucts must also comply with the legal require­ments in other respects.

Due to the different vari­eties of hemp, some with signif­i­cant levels of D9-tetrahy­dro­cannabinol (THC), which is rele­vant under narcotics law, it is crucial for food producers to know the exact content of cannabi­noids. The analysis requires special approval from the Federal Opium Agency, as the THC refer­ence stan­dard is a narcotic.

Since the hemp plant contains a lot of water, mold can easily form during storage. Afla­toxins in partic­ular are very toxic and harmful to humans even in low concen­tra­tions. For this reason, the regu­la­tory author­i­ties have set the maximum permis­sible limits in Regu­la­tion (EC) No. 1881/2006. The following limits apply in the EU: 2 μg/kg-1for afla­toxin B1 and 4 μg/kg-1for the sum of afla­toxins B1, B2, G1, G2 in various foodstuffs.

Crop protec­tion prod­ucts and pesti­cides are used to increase yields in hemp culti­va­tion. There­fore, these should also be analyzed in hemp prod­ucts. The most common pesti­cides found in cannabis include the fungi­cide myclobu­tanil and the insec­ti­cides inida­clo­prid, abamectin, and spiromesifen.

One of the main prob­lems with cannabis extracts is that pesti­cides and cannabi­noids have similar chem­ical prop­er­ties and are there­fore equally likely to dissolve from the plant during extrac­tion and thus enter the final product. Since the result of further processing is a concen­trate of the active ingre­di­ents, the cont­a­m­i­nant load is also up to ten times higher than that of the plant.

To ensure that your hemp prod­ucts reach the market safely, it is impor­tant to have appro­priate analyses carried out. Here you will find an overview of our analyses:

Micro­bi­o­log­ical analyses:

  • Envi­ron­mental moni­toring program
  • Pathogen tests
  • Quality indi­ca­tors
  • Hygienic moni­toring
  • Shelf-life studies

Residue analyses:

  • Afla­toxins
  • Heavy metals (As, Cd, Pb & Hg)
  • Myco­toxins
  • Pesti­cides
  • Residues of solvents
  • Terpenes
tentamus hemp cannabinoid profile dithiocarbamate

Analysis of medical cannabis products

One of the biggest chal­lenges for medical cannabis compa­nies is the regu­la­tory and analyt­ical require­ments of the phar­ma­ceu­tical industry.

The experts at the Tentamus Pharma labo­ra­to­ries can support you with phar­ma­ceu­tical exper­tise throughout the life­cycle of your cannabis-based medi­c­inal product. These services cover all aspects of a tradi­tional phar­ma­ceu­tical product, such as:

  • Consulting
  • Method devel­op­ment
  • Bioanalyses of clin­ical and non-clin­ical studies
  • Analyses in the commer­cial phase

Since medical cannabis does not have only one active ingre­dient, a large focus is on the analysis of the product. This is one of our strengths, as we offer a wide range of state-of-the-art and sensi­tive analyt­ical and bioan­a­lyt­ical methods.

If you are looking for a partner with in-depth knowl­edge of medical cannabis and estab­lished state-of-the-art analyt­ical and bioan­a­lyt­ical methods, please do not hesi­tate to contact us at any time.

Our analyt­ical labo­ra­to­ries are GMP, GLP, GCLP and ISO accred­ited and are present in Europe, Israel and the USA. Using microscopy, thin layer chro­matog­raphy, HPLC, GC, LC-MS/MS, ICP-MS and the long expe­ri­ence and expert knowl­edge of our teams, we are able to offer you a complete package for the analysis of medical cannabis. Our services include:

Analyt­ical Services:

  • Analyt­ical method development
  • Qual­i­fi­ca­tion & vali­da­tion of analyt­ical methods
  • Analyses for clin­ical and non-clin­ical studies
  • Analyses for all classes of compounds in medical cannabis: 
    • Known cannabi­noids (e.g. CBD, THC, 11-hydroxy-THC and CBN)
    • Other cannabi­noids (> 100)
    • Terpenes
    • Impu­ri­ties (e.g. heavy metals, pesticides)
  • Release analysis (GMP, QP release)
  • Stability studies

Bioan­a­lyt­ical Services:

  • Clin­ical studies 
    • Analyses within the scope of the GCLP
    • Human samples (blood, plasma, urine)
  • Non-clin­ical studies 
    • Analyses under GLP / non-GLP
    • A variety of species (e.g. rodents & pigs).
    • A variety of biolog­ical samples (e.g. plasma, brain, skin, CSF, fat).
Medical cannabis is used in the field of ther­a­peutic treat­ment and treat­ment of serious diseases. It is prescribed by a doctor in the form of flowers or extracts.

TentaStart program
for start-ups with cannabis products

The commer­cial­iza­tion of cannabis prod­ucts comes with chal­lenges that can be a major hurdle, espe­cially for small manu­fac­turers and star­tups. To help you bring a safe product to market, our TentaS­tart program provides consulting and analytics to help you make your product marketable.

Overview of Tentamus Group laboratories offering Cannabis analysis

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