Extracting and refining the cannabis plant into medication and edible products is uncharted territory for many cannabis-producing businesses. Cannabis products need to be consistent in composition and free of impurities that could negatively affect users’ health. Automatic sampling can help optimize sampling accuracy and repeatability in every step of the cannabidiol (CBD), hemp and cannabis extraction process, while ensuring a safe final product.
Riding the "Green Wave"
In 2018, a farm bill passed that made the production of industrial hemp legal in the United States. This opened the door to legalization of CBD in some states. Since then, there’s been a “green wave” of cannabis-inspired products flooding the market, including cannabis, CBD oil and hempseed oil. Now the global CBD oil and CBD consumer health market size is expected to reach $123.2 billion by 2027.
According to the FDA, cannabis and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, a flowering plant indigenous to Central and South Asia. Cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis while CBD is non-psychoactive and is valued primarily for its medical effects.
Although cannabis remains illegal at the U.S. federal level, more than two dozen states plus the District of Colombia allow cannabis use for medical, or in some states, recreational use.
Sampling CBD for Safety and Purity
Like any edible oil or nutritional supplement, cannabinoid oils should be tested before being sold. Sampling and analysis help ensure that these oils meet the quality, safety, and labeling requirements for legalized cannabis products.
The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) developed recommendations to regulators for best practice rules to address the stages of cannabis production and distribution, including sample handling and data management that are unique to laboratories analyzing cannabis samples.
Components that the AHPA recommends testing for include:
- Potency of THC and CBD – Knowing the concentration of active ingredients is crucial for determining a product’s strength, as higher concentrations of THC or CBD often mean higher prices and impact doctor recommendations.
- Residual solvents – THC products are often produced with the help of solvents, such as butane, propane, isopropanol or acetone, to separate the cannabinoids from the plant matter. When these solvents aren’t effectively removed, the remaining impurities can present health risks.
- Heavy metals – Arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium can enter cannabis plants from contaminated soil.
- Microorganisms – During growth or storage, cannabis plants can become contaminated with microorganisms such as mold, mildew, bacteria, and yeast. Pathogenic bacteria can cause severe illness, particularly in immunocompromised patients taking medical cannabis.
- Quality – Sampling and analysis can help ensure batch-to-batch consistency and quality.
Accurate analysis Through Automatic Sampling
Automatic representative sampling helps producers ensure their products are safe and meet all guidelines for potency and quality.
Measures multiple components. Sampling enables the separation, identification and analysis of many components in the mixture.
Small sample sizes. Every drop of cannabis oil is precious, and producers are often reluctant to provide more than a gram or two of sample for testing. Automatic sampling uses the minimum sample volume, as little as 1 cc sample volume per cycle, to extract precise amounts and waste no valuable material.
Automatic sampling equipment can help optimize sampling accuracy and repeatability in every step of the extraction and refining process.
Automatic Samplers. An automatic point sampler is designed for sampling sanitary products such as cannabis-related oils and products. A CBD sampling system should include:
- Rugged 300-series stainless steel construction
- Sanitary connections and O-ring design that’s easy to clean and replace when necessary
- FDA-approved materials, including elastomers
- Programmable technology
Heat Exchangers. Coiled heat exchangers and coil-in-coil heat exchangers are two kinds of sample coolers for the CO2 or butane cooling process. These specialty heat exchangers help cool butane to negative temperatures prior to exposing them to cannabis plants to extract terpenes. For CO2, they can be used for to liquify the CO2 and make it a solvent and help aid in the extraction process.
Upon extraction, the cannabis oils are tested in a variety of ways such as High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Ultra Performance Chromatography (UPC) or Gas Chromatography (GC) to ensure the highest quality, maximum profits and state and federal regulations are maintained.
ISOLOK® samplers from Sentry are ideal for sampling cannabis-derived products and oils, offering a highly accurate, fixed volume automatic sampling solution. Contact us at +1-262-567-7256, or complete our online contact form for more information on using ISOLOK samplers for edible oils.