Metrolab Blog

Complete pharmaceutical cannabis testing solutions

Whether your business is just getting started or growing bigger, your analyses need to keep up with the latest regulations. Look to our proven track record a broad offering of cannabis testing solutions and expertise for your growing cannabis business.

Routine targeted pesticides analysis


Safety and regulatory standards for cannabis testing are in their infancy; what is at the lower end of permissible pesticide residue analysis results today, may be at the upper end tomorrow.

Our innovative technologies help laboratories stay ahead of the curve. We provide powerful workflow solutions and expertise for ever-evolving pesticide residues analysis, to help modern testing labs ensure cannabis quality, product safety and regulatory compliance. From sample input to actionable knowledge about your sample, we’ve got you covered.

In addition to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), producers may also have to detect and identify unknown compounds in cannabis. These unknowns either exist in global databases but are not on the current list of targets for cannabis, or they likely haven’t been detected yet but are resulting from human formation/manipulation or biological modifications in the production of cannabis. Analysis for unknown compounds in cannabis can be done with high resolution accurate mass (HRAM) mass spectrometry and a combination of software packages.

Mycotoxins and aflatoxins analysis


Natural toxins are chemicals that are naturally produced by living organisms. Toxins are found in a staggering range of matrices, including grains, fruits, spices, meat, seafood, milk, nuts and animal feed—and also cannabis. These toxins are a major concern to the worldwide economy because of annual revenue lost due to contamination, the toxicity of the toxins to both animals and humans (many are known carcinogens), and because they are persistent throughout multiple food processing steps. Thermo Fisher has many rugged and sensitive techniques for the analysis of natural toxins and biotoxins, as well as solutions for high-throughput laboratories.



Measuring the amount of specific cannabinoids including THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA and CBN can help consumers identify the type of product to use. The THC/CBD ratio determination is important to discriminate medicinal potency from recreational cannabis, with consequent economical implication. Potency testing is important for infused oral products which take longer to feel the effects. Analytical methods involve gas and liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, GC-MS and LC-MS.

A dual channel GC equipped with an FID detector and an MS is suitable for identification, confirmation, and quantitation of cannabinoids and terpenoids profiling, as well as for residual solvent analysis (VOCs). HPLC and LC-MS are also used in potency testing to identify the acidic forms (THCA and CBDA) before their conversion to the free forms THC and CBD.

Terpenes and terpenoids, which are naturally occurring compounds in cannabis, affect the variations in product scent. Knowing the terpene content can help consumers choose a product to match a desired aroma or effect.

Cost-effective trace metals analysis


Testing for toxic metals like Cd, Hg, As and Pb, is mandatory under the new regulations. The levels of detection required may be attained using an ICP OES but typically, an ICP MS should be used to offer more flexibility for additional dilutions during sample preparation. Heavy metals such as these are known for their acute, chronic, and cumulative toxicity. Other toxic elements like Os, Se, and Tl can also be tested along with basic plant nutrients like Ca, Na, Mg, Zn, B, Fe, K and more.

With today’s advanced technologies, multiple elements in different concentration ranges are often analyzed in a sample—all in one run. However, different elements have unique properties and are often present as multiple chemical species that affect sample preparation, ionization conditions, spectral interferences. Some elements are in multiple chemical forms than can be separated by speciation. For example, in the Health Canada Regulations, if the total Hg concentration fails, the Hg in the sample can be separated by speciation and only the methyl mercury reported. Therefore, the right solutions, along with our expert’s tips and tricks for analysis, are often the most valuable parts of the equation.

Residual solvents analysis


Solvents are often used to extract cannabinoids and terpenoids from plant material. They vary from solvent-free CO2 to harsher chemicals, and, depending on the extraction method, residual solvents (considered volatile organic compounds or VOCs) may exist in the final cannabis concentrate. To meet government regulations, producers must ensure their products are free from toxicologically significant levels of VOCs.

The typical workflow in testing laboratories uses a headspace autosampler to automate the volatiles enrichment in the gaseous phase and transfer it to a gas chromatograph (GC) for separation and detection. The typical detector is a flame ionization detector (FID).

More details about our complete cannabis solution