The Industry That is Depending on Science and Regulation to Grow

Yuran Li, Director, MS Commercial Strategies, Alternative Biomedical Solutions (ABS), is a biochemist by training. Still, his fascinations with physics, math, and probability have led him down some interesting paths, including some stints in the professional poker world. Lucky for ABS, he chose the science route.

Cannabis is a schedule 1 drug classification by the U.S. Federal government. As more and more states legalize it, there is a growing need for reliable testing to ensure the safety and potency of cannabis products. ABS is one of the pioneers in cannabis method development and testing. Li spoke with Jason Claybrook on some of ABS’s activities surrounding Cannabis.

Any product that people consume goes through testing to ensure their safety. “Cannabis is unique in that it’s ultimately a weed,” Li said. And it can prove quite a challenge to cultivate because the plant can soak up a lot of pesticides and other elements used for pest control. “Additionally, the Cannabis plant itself also uptakes quite a lot of heavy metals, things like arsenic and lead.” Accumulation of these pollutants can harm humans, so accurate testing is essential.

Some of the testing ABS does on Cannabis is to look for micro toxins, like mold and soil pollutants. And from a marketing and regulatory standpoint, they test for potency. In some cases, testing can help ensure that a strain grown for CBD does not contain THC. One challenge Li cautioned is every state has different guidelines, and it is essential to understand the laws governing each state where Cannabis sales are allowed.

Another aspect of lab testing that is becoming more and more important for Cannabis is label testing. As with craft beers and whiskey, labels need to back up their product’s claims. Testing ensures the strain offered on the label is the strain received by the consumer.

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