Pittcon 2017: The Shimadzu Cannabis Analyzer for Potency

An all in one HPLC solution that allows seamless determination of cannabinoid content

There were a number of interesting product releases showcased at the Pittcon 2017 meeting in Chicago. Among the most exciting was the Cannabis Analyzer for Potency release from Shimadzu.

It is widely acknowledged that there is a void in standardized cannabis potency testing, and the need for a universal analytical instrument platform has been repeatedly noted. The inconsistency in standardized methods stems in part from the lack of universal state and federal guidelines. Although cannabis processing labs commonly adhere to USDA recommendations for food safety, there remains a disparity in the performance and reliability of testing methods and equipment.

Shimadzu has addressed this issue head on with the advent of the all in one cannabis analyzer for potency. This platform is a comprehensive package integrating instrument hardware, optimized methods, and consumables, all meant to serve as a complete solution for cannabis potency analysis.

At the core of the platform is a high performance liquid chromatography system built for purpose around three main analytical workflows.

  • The high throughput method includes methods and supplies for quantitative potency determination of the 10 cannabinoids of greatest interest, with a cycle time of less then 8 minutes per sample.

  • The high sensitivity method adds Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) to the analyte list and boasts a cycle time of 10 minutes.

  • The high resolution method enables full baseline resolution for all 11 cannabinoids of interest in 30 minutes – with the added ability to expand the target list as needed.

A major advantage of the analyzer is that the device is built specifically around cannabinoid potency analysis, and as such the methods have been optimized as part of a complete analytical workflow. The package includes everything necessary, including certified reference materials (CRM), to get the system up and running days after installation and testing according to Shimadzu.

The fact that methods are built in and there is no need for development and optimization, translates to ease of use and precision results, even in the hands of multiple operators. The analyzer comes with a service package to cover preventative maintenance and a 3 year warranty, with free technical support for the life of the device.

The concept of a dedicated all in one platform for cannabis potency analysis is a welcome offering from Shimadzu. The system will add needed accuracy and precision to a field where potency is not always evaluated with the highest stringency -- potency testing of cannabis infused foods is known to be fraught with challenges and inconsistencies.

Analytical equipment can be difficult to operate and maintain with optimal performance due to potential operator error. The cannabis analyzer of potency and its built-in methods take the guess work out of method development and routine analysis, thereby simplifying operations.

An instrument such as this may very well move the needle with regard to harmonization of methods and results between labs. This in turn may accelerate the process leading to more complete and unified state and federal guidelines for cannabis processing and potency testing.