In the State of Michigan, each batch of marijuana products are required to be rigorously tested by Safety Compliance Facilities (SCFs) to ensure the safety of consumers. Those tests include; heavy metals, pesticides, contaminating yeasts, molds, and bacteria, residual solvents, potency and more. Laboratory testing minimizes the risk of exposure to these contaminants and provides consumers with the information they need to know about the products they are purchasing. This also helps to ensure that at-risk consumers, like immunocompromised medical patients, do not have to worry about molds and other bacteria that can potentially cause them serious harm. Each facility must rigorously validate each testing method they use to ISO 17025:2017 standards as well as gain full ISO 17025:2017 certification before being able to accept any samples for testing.
One of the major selling points of any cannabis product is potency. Edibles have maximum amount allowed by law, and while there isn't a minimum or maximum level allowed for flower products, you need an accurate potency and cannabinoid profile to ensure proper dosing. ABKO Labs follows CRA rules and tests for the average potency of your batch (flower), the potency/purity profile of your concentrate or edible, and even the homogeneity of your edible batch. We currently analyze your sample for 11 cannabinoids using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).
Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA)
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid (THCA)
For immunocompromised medical patients, bacteria that people normally don’t even notice can be extremely harmful if not deadly. At ABKO Labs we use two methods to ensure that your cannabis product is safe for everyone’s consumption. Plating for total coliforms (TC) and total yeast and mold (TYM), and quantitative Polymerase Chain-Reaction (qPCR) to specifically detect Salmonella, Shiga Toxin producing E. coli (STEC) like the strain O157:H7 which is commonly seen in restaurant food poisoning cases and several Aspergillus mold species. Aspergillus niger is sometimes called “black mold” and can produce mycotoxins that are leathal in parts per million levels.
The cannabis plant is a well-known and extremely efficient soil remediator. This means that during growth, the cannabis plant will pull into itself as much of the nutrients around its roots as possible. As a byproduct this also can include contaminants such as mercury, arsenic, lead, nickel, cadmium, chromium and copper, which can be found in soil, or in water flowing from old or contaminated pipes. ABKO Labs uses Inductively Coupled Plasma – Mass Spectrometry to measure samples at the atomic level in order to ensure that your cannabis or cannabis products are not dangerously contaminated.
In order to create many of the products such as rosin, resin, distillate, concentrates and many others, cannabinoids need to be extracted from the cannabis plant’s cells and concentrated into a useable form. To do this, many extraction methods use an alcohol like ethanol, or other solvents like butane. These products need to be tested to ensure that these chemicals have been properly removed from the final product. At ABKO Labs, we use Headspace Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry (HS-GCMS) to ensure your products are properly screened for these harmful chemicals.
You may have heard about terpenes at your local dispensary, but what are they really? The effects of Terpenes are currently anecdotal and has little clinical research data. It appears that Terpenes work with cannabinoids in what is referred to as the “entourage effect” to give the product an enhanced experience. Terpenes are known to impact both the flavor and aroma of cannabis, creating a product that is appealing to the consumers. Knowing your Terpene profile will help you market your strains to your customers for the potential benefits of the product. ABKO Labs uses Headspace Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (HS-GCMS) to quantify and identify 38 volatile compounds that make up the Terpene profile.
Water is everywhere. Cannabis and cannabis products are no exception. In order to be classified as “shelf stable” a product needs to have water activity that is below a certain level. Once it gets below a certain level (0.65 aw for plant material, 0.85 aw for edibles), there is not enough water available for microbial life like E. coli or molds to grow on it.
Making cannabis and cannabis products for consumption and sale is a complicated process with a lot of steps. Sometimes that means a batch isn’t as “clean” as it needs to be. Using high powered magnification we screen samples for foreign matter contamination such as visible mold, animal feces, mites or other bugs, and anything else that may make the product unsafe.
Plant Pathogen Testing
Indoor grows usually do not have to face the types of pests and diseases that outdoor cannabis growers face. That being said, there is a wave of infections spreading through cultivations across the country. The most troubling of these is Hop Latent Viroid (HLV). Transmitted through infected clones, dirty shears, and other contact with infected plants, this viroid infection might not be noticeable at first. Sometimes there is a slight yellowing of leaves, but even at this stage an infection can lower the THC yield of your harvest by up to half even with beautiful, large, healthy-looking buds. As the infection persists both in the current plants and in future clone generations, the plants begin to yellow, wither and die. ABKO Labs uses qPCR to test for HLV along with 2 other cannabis pathogens Lettuce Virus, and Marijuana Cryptic Virus to ensure that your grows are healthy and getting the greatest yield possible from your crop.