Previously, we’ve highlighted the importance of CBD testing. In this blog, we’re breaking down a guide to cannabis analytical testing and everything to know about our process at Highgrade Labs. (Plus, why it’s crucial for your company!) 


A Step-by-Step Guide to Cannabis Analytical Testing

Considering the various ways people use cannabis, its important to ensure each product on the market is assessed and examined accurately for the safety of the consumer.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of our cannabis analytical testing services:


  • Cannabis Potency Testing

It is crucial to always have the most accurate assessment of the potency of your cannabis product. Cannabis potency is an important indicator for determining the right dose for a medical patient or recreational consumer (this is also a dose that may be different for everybody).

Cannabis potency testing involves a quick and simple analysis method. Using a form of gas chromatography and a flame ionization detector, liquid samples of the product are vaporized and passed through a chromatograph, where the individualized compounds present in the product begin to separate based on their chemical composition.

These compounds are then fed through the flame ionization detector to measure the size of the current produced from this process. This measurement assessed is an accurate quantified representation of the organic cannabinoids and compounds present in the cannabis sample. 


  • Terpene Profile Testing

The aromas and flavors we experience in cannabis are due to terpenes. Not only do terpenes contribute to the unique flavor profile of cannabis, but they also hold many therapeutic effects that patients may potentially benefit from.

Highgrade is one of the only labs in the country to analyze up to 42 different terpenes in all cannabis products.

Like cannabinoid potency testing, terpene profile testing is extremely similar. Through the same methods of gas chromatography and flame ionization detection, the liquid samples are vaporized and run through analyzation technology to determine the quantitative chemical compound of all terpenes contained within the sample. 


  • Residual Solvents Testing

When it comes to cannabis concentrates and infused products, it’s important to test for any residual solvents or chemicals that may still be present from the extraction process. The goal of residual solvent testing is to detect and quantify any solvents such as butane, propane, and isopropanol.

Residual solvent testing is performed through gas chromatography, a process where gasses and the concentrated sample are mixed together to separate into individual substances when heated.

This separates and removes the residual solvents and any impurities from the sample, ensuring there is none remaining in the final product. 


  • Microbial Testing

Considering all cannabis products were once living plants, it’s extremely crucial to ensure that your cannabis material is free of any harmful microbes that could contaminate the product. If consumed, microbial contamination in cannabis could lead to serious illness.

Microbial testing is performed through a process known as quantitative polymerase chain reaction. 

This straightforward technique uses polymerase chain reactions of compounds to amplify the DNA of microbes detected within samples of flower, concentrates, and infused products. 


  • Heavy Metals Testing

Oftentimes, cannabis plants “pull” heavy metals and other contaminants surrounding the soil and environment the plant is being grown in. Heavy metals screening helps to ensure metal presence in cannabis flower and products is below the limits considered safe for consumption.

Heavy metals testing is done through a process called inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Through this testing, the cannabis sample is ionized and fed through a mass spectrometer and analyzed according to its mass-to-charge ratios.

This helps determine an accurate quantitative assessment of heavy metal compounds detected within the cannabis sample. 


In addition to these major testing services available at Highgrade Labs, analyses of lipids, pesticide residue, and even water activity measurements are all also offered.


Cannabis Analytical Testing at Highgrade Labs

Through our extensive services run by high-level cannabis laboratory scientists and technicians, we’re here to guide you through the cannabis testing regulations throughout our Arizona, Oklahoma, and Maryland locations (with New Jersey Coming Soon!)

Interested in our cannabis testing services? Order a test in your state, today! Contact us for inquiries and be sure to check out our Instagram for the latest in cannabis science and analytics!