How to Select the Right Equipment for Cannabis Potency Testing

The cannabis and hemp markets are thriving around the world. South Africa is an emerging cannabis economy that is poised to become a major player in the global industry because of our favourable climate, the depth of our agriculture experience, and abundant viable land for farming. There is still a myriad of legislative and regulatory challenges to navigate and clarify, but great opportunities exist for businesses of all sizes to participate in the future growth of the cannabis sector.

The creates a need for cannabis testing and analysis, particularly potency testing. The high costs of setting up a cannabis and hemp testing laboratory and the wide array of choices can sometimes lead lab owners to make short-term, low-cost purchasing decisions. It is important to consider the long-term operations of the lab and define clear criteria for the choice of instrumentation.


Things to consider

Think in terms of ABLE methods: affordABLE, achievABLE, reliABLE, and repeatABLE when considering the instrument purchase. Other important decisions include the bench space in your lab and the footprint of the equipment, data processing, consumables, scientific consulting, education, and ongoing support. Finally, laboratories need to trust their instrumentation partner Chemetrix to support them with expertise and consultancy.

There is a bewildering range of testing equipment choices for the analysis of cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp products. How do you choose what’s right for you? Should you opt for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), or do your needs align better with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS)?

Setting up a cannabis testing laboratory involves several significant decisions, and instrument selection for total cannabinoid analysis (potency testing) is one of the most important ones. Potency specifically refers to the amount of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the sample, but other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, and others must be measured and reported as well.


Criteria for selecting instrumentation

The testing technology and equipment you select are dependent upon your commercial model, business goals, and type of laboratory set-up you have.

  1. If you are a start-up cannabis and hemp testing laboratory, grower, extractor, or manufacturer with small batch-processing needs, you require entry-level testing equipment that yields repeatable and reliable results. HPLC is the most widely used technology for this use case, and the Agilent 1220 Infinity II LC is ideal for your purpose. Capable of processing about 100 samples per day, it is perfect for routine testing. The Agilent 1220 Infinity II HPLC is a self-contained system with a small footprint and reliably tests 11 of the major cannabinoids.

    Agilent 1220 Infinity II LC
  2. An alternative to the 1220 system is the Agilent 1260 Infinity II HPLC. The 1260 platform is modular, flexible, upgradable, and can grow with your cannabis and hemp lab’s needs. High-throughput laboratories, cannabinoid researchers, forensic and criminalistic labs, and cultivar R&D may need to identify hundreds of cannabinoids and many other endogenous chemicals in cannabis and hemp. For these situations LC/MS is the answer. 
    Agilent 1260 Infinity II LC
  3. The Agilent Cary 630 FT-IR spectrometer is a type of equipment that is used for relatively simple testing of the four major cannabinoids with processed samples.

If your lab is pivoting to include cannabis potency testing in its service offering, speak to your Chemetrix sales representative who can advise if any upgrades or instrument acquisitions are required to ensure the lab can meet regulatory guidelines. If you’re newly venturing into this sector, Chemetrix is able to advise a complete solution that can ensure your lab can deliver results with a good return on investment from your analytical instrumentation.

Agilent Cary 630 FTIR Spectrometer


Explore Cannabis Potency Testing

To delve further into cannabis potency testing, read this article by Agilent Technologies that further explores the recommended testing technology and why they are best suited to the methodology required.


Looking for more information on Cannabis Potency Testing? Explore our Solutions Page >