UK trade group the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) says it has entered into discussions with international life sciences testing company LGC in a move it says represents an “essential step towards standardisation for the (CBD) industry”. 

Currently, a standard analytical testing methodology for CBD product testing does not exist. This means test results can differ from laboratory to laboratory. ACI says the situation was highlighted last year when the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis performed a blind testing exercise of 30 popular CBD products in the UK. The study, which recently was published in a peer reviewed academic paper, showed discrepancies between what was stated on the label and the results in the majority of the products tested.

It was concluded these discrepancies could be attributed to several factors; different sample preparation protocols employed for analytical testing; different validation standards of analytical methodology used in testing; or companies unwittingly (or purposely) presenting erroneous information to sell their products.

This, says ACI, “exposed the need for standardisation and harmonisation of the analytical methodology protocols used in the testing of cannabinoids”.

Dr Parveen Bhatarah, head of The ACI Regulatory and Compliance Unit, led efforts to define protocols for the analytical testing of cannabinoids. The technology employed will detect levels of cannabinoids to a higher degree of precision (approximately 0.0001%). Laboratories will then be able to identify whether samples contain more than 0.0001% of controlled cannabinoids, equivalent to 1mg/kg. This is known as the Level Of Detection (LOD) and will ensure samples do not exceed the threshold stated by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (UK Government 2001).

ACI says its protocols demonstrate quantifiable levels of cannabinoids beyond 0.0025% (weight by weight). This is known as the Level Of Quantification (LOQ). This analytical methodology also showed the ability to quantify over 16 known cannabinoids.

The ACI is now in discussion LGC (which continues its function as ‘Government Chemist’) about the provision of samples for a project that will focus on the development of a method for testing CBD in foods with a higher precision control.

Dr Bhatarah commented: “A lack of harmonisation in testing for cannabinoids led to important questions regarding product labelling and the analytical methodology used to declare the percentage of CBD and controlled cannabinoids on CBD products. Up to now there has been no standard analytical methodology for CBD product testing. Test result variations are further complicated due to the instability of most of these cannabinoids to light, temperature, humidity and air meaning sample preparation is key to consistency. Eurofins have demonstrated our protocols to be robust and we look forward to moving this standardisation forward with LGC.”