Marijuana is a hot topic in the news these days. Some say it’s a gateway drug; others say it’s the best medicine. The legalization of marijuana in some states has even led to the creation of businesses that purport to grow the plant in an environment that’s free of pesticides and other agricultural products. Should you trust a marijuana product from an unknown source? Let’s look at the facts.

Marijuana is commonly used as a recreational drug and medicine. Its popularity has brought a flood of new questions about its effects on our body, mind, and the environment. The main question for many people is Does marijuana contain carcinogens? The answer is yes, but it is not as grim as you might think.

Question: I smoke weed and I’m concerned about the health risks. What are the risks and how can I protect myself? This question is relatively common and the main reason I created this blog is to answer it.. Read more about bio-rad and let us know what you think.Testing cannabis and cannabis-derived products for microbiological contamination should be a simple task for testing laboratories and manufacturers. Nonetheless, much of the cannabis industry is looking for reliable answers due to the maze of regulations and the wide variety of views on what we should and should not be looking for.

Organisations such as the AOAC are taking the first steps towards standards in this area, but there is still a long way to go. In this conversation, we want to talk about the general requirements shared by nearly all states and the direction we believe the industry will take as jurisdictions begin to comply with the recommendations of national organizations like AOAC.

We spoke to Anna Kleavins and Jessa Youngblood, two cannabis testing experts at Hardy Diagnostics, to hear what they think about microbiological testing in the current state of the cannabis industry.

Q : What are the biggest challenges for cannabis laboratories in terms of microbiology?

CompactDry quick plate for yeast and mold gives fast results.

Ask the Experts: Microbiological Contamination in Cannabis & What You Should Look for

Anna Klavins and Jessa Youngblood: As for microbiological testing, there is a lack of standardization and accepted methods for cannabis. In the United States, cannabis is regulated at the state level. Consequently, the rules governing each aspect of the marketing of these documents are as unique and varied as the jurisdiction in which they are created. When we talk specifically about microbiology, the question always comes back to the analysis of yeasts and fungi. The four main species of Aspergillus – A. terreus, A. niger, A. fumigatus and A. flavus – are often associated with this problem. For others, it will be a challenge to test the total of yeasts, fungi and bacteria. These problems are further complicated by the lack of an accepted standard method. Normally, we would expect the FDA, USP, or some other agency to issue industry guidelines – regulations that outline what is safe for consumption. However, in the absence of federal guidelines, we often find ourselves in a situation where laboratories must perform these tests on their own. This is becoming a real barrier to many programs.

Q : Why is it important to use two different technologies to achieve validation?

Dichloran Rose Bengal Chloramphenicol (DRBC) agar is recommended for the determination of yeasts and moulds.

Ask the Experts: Microbiological Contamination in Cannabis & What You Should Look for

Clavins and Youngblood: The impetus for this approach came from discussions within the sector. Scientists and specialists from different disciplines began to come together and form teams to solve the problems that resulted from the lack of standardization. In terms of cannabis testing, using one method to obtain microbiological results can be unreliable. When customers compared results from different labs, the discrepancies became even more problematic and confidence in the industry began to waver. As the groups discussed how best to demonstrate the effectiveness of their testing protocol, it quickly became clear that using a single testing method would not suffice. When laboratories use two different technologies for microbiological testing, they can eliminate the possibility of false-positive or false-negative results, depending on the situation. Cannabis labs would even benefit from learning algorithms to detect organisms of interest. This type of laboratory testing is used in other industries, and these models are now beginning to find acceptance in cannabis testing. This approach is common for many food and pharmaceutical products and is also justified for the emerging cannabis market.

About Anna Klavins

Ask the Experts: Microbiological Contamination in Cannabis & What You Should Look for

Anna Kleavins earned her bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo while playing for the Cal Poly Division I NCAA women’s tennis team. Since joining Hardy Diagnostics in mid-2016, she has gained experience submitting [510(k)] applications to the FDA for Class II microbiology in vitro devices. She has worked on 15 projects leading to FDA certification of a microbiological device. She recently joined the AOAC Performance Tested Methods program.

About Jess Youngblood

Ask the Experts: Microbiological Contamination in Cannabis & What You Should Look for

Jessa Youngblood is the market coordinator for food, beverage and cannabis at Hardy Diagnostics. A specialist in cannabis microbiology compliance, she is a member of the AOAC’s CASP Committee working on standard microbiological testing methods for cannabis and hemp. She is also a member of the NCIA Scientific Advisory Board and the ASTM Cannabis Council.

Content is sponsored by Hardy Diagnostics.

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