Before anyone consumes a substance, including cannabis, they should have an understanding exactly what is in it and how it will affect them.
When we really think about it, no one really knows exactly what is in their cannabis. No cannabis flower is the same. Cannabis is a highly complex naturally heterogenous plant. Cannabis flowers contain over 500 different compounds of which cannabinoids are the most important. There are over 100 cannabinoids which interact with sensors in the brain to create different effects.
The potency of cannabis is commonly based on THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, which produces psychoactive effects. Due to the heterogenous nature of cannabis, potency variation can be significant, even for two or more flowers from the same plant. There are multiple factors which affect cannabis potency including the strain’s genetics, environment, and growing methods.
Every cannabis user will experience a different effect because of their unique biological makeup. Consequently, it is important for them, especially patients consuming cannabis for therapeutic reasons, to know the potency of the cannabis they consume to help ensure they get the desired effect they seek. For this there must be accurate labeling on cannabis products. Only then will consumers be able to make the right decisions for the cannabis they buy and how they use it.
Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy technology is a widely used and proven analytical tool, which uses the naturally occurring electromagnetic spectrum, for the rapid and accurate identification (qualitative) and measurement (quantitative) of food, agricultural and pharmaceutical products.
The electromagnetic spectrum is divided into several wavelength regions measured in nanometers (nm). The NIR range covers the region between 700nm to 2500nm. NIR spectroscopy solutions shine a beam of light onto a sample, some of the light is absorbed by the sample, some of it is scattered, and some is reflected. All these lights are directed to a spectrometer, which measures the spectrum of the resulting light. The difference between the measured spectrum and light source spectrum indicates the characteristics of the sample.
Compared to traditional chemical analysis methods, which can be high in labor and material costs, NIR solutions are easy-to-use, need little or no sample preparation (non-destructive), do not require chemicals or consumables, and deliver quick and accurate results. NIR analytical technology is recognized by the FDA as a credible and reliable means to ensure the quality of manufactured drug products.
NIR analytical tools provide reliable analytical data for better decision-making in real-time.
Both devices yield analysis results based on estimations. An HPLC device is significantly more expensive, requires a skilled professional to operate, comprehensive sample preparation is necessary before analysis, testing takes time and at the end of the process there is hazardous waste which necessitates disposal. GemmaCert, for its part, is much more affordable, can be operated by any member of staff without any professional skills, no sample preparation is required, results are quick and there is no waste at the end of the process, rather the analyzed sample is left totally intact. Yes, an HPLC will be invariably more accurate on a single sample basis (assuming proper use of the HPLC) but for cannabis testing, a single sample does not characterize a batch. Characterizing a batch mandates analyzing number of samples. Thanks to the above listed GemmaCert advantages many more samples can be analyzed. GemmaCert can match HPLC accuracy estimating batch average testing on a 3:1 basis (i.e. 3 times number of HPLC samples) for high cannabinoid values and maximum 8:1 basis for low cannabinoid values.
GemmaCert accuracy in statistical terms is RMSE of 1%. In practice this means that GemmaCert will estimate 95% of samples known as 10% THC within the range 8% to 12%”.
GemmaCert is not a certified lab and each state and country has its own regulations as to what testing is recognized to fulfill mandatory testing requirements for labeling and tracking purposes. GemmaCert should be used for R&D, onsite real-time quality assurance and to support transactional decision-making. You can, of course, use GemmaCert to cherry-pick your best flowers in terms of efficacy and commercial value.
“Testing” is a rather inaccurate term. Generally, one can get a result by either “measuring” or “estimating”. Most analytical methods, including HPLC, estimate by comparing certain measured characteristics to a reference. NIR is no different.
NIR is a very mature technology. NIR is widely used and regulation-approved for use in food industries across the entire supply chain from inputs (feed, forage, fertilizers), through farm outputs (milk, grain) to end products by the food industry, as well as across the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Almost all testing, including with an HPLC, is based on estimation. An HPLC analysis is as good as the chemical standards used, the accuracy of the device itself, the testing protocol used and, of course, the skill of the operator.
After all, one can still use ground flowers. Grinding a flower accelerates its degradation and results in loss of active materials. Therefore, grinding a flower reduces efficacy and destroys commercial value. With GemmaCert you can test many flowers without having to worry about destroying quality and value. Grinding also involves certain effort; particularly cleaning the gear after analysis.
We have the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of cannabis flower spectra accumulated since 2016. This database is growing daily and already includes thousands of samples.
As you probably know, the active ingredients, including the cannabinoids, are found in the trichomes which are dispersed all over the flower bud. These are not dispersed equally; quite the contrary. Therefore, only by testing the whole flower do you stand a chance of getting a reliable potency analysis.
Gemma in Latin means Flower Bud and Cert comes from Certification.