As demand for Cannabinoid (CBD) Oil skyrockets, traditional farmers are making room in their corn and soybean fields for cannabis sativa. Because keeping the oil extracted from the plants at or below 0.3 percent is required to comply with Maryland state guidelines, accurate analysis and testing of the harvest is key. Established laboratory professionals are seizing the opportunity to create laboratories for the processing and analytical testing of industrial hemp.
Agriculture rarely makes the news, but the rush to plant industrial hemp– a variety of the cannabis sativa plant– is a recent exception. Since the 2018 Farm Bill helped clarify the differences between industrial hemp and its party-hearty relative, marijuana, hemp has been touted as one of the most important cash crops of the future. Positioned for use in everything from personal care products to biofuel and dozens of other products in between, one of the most intriguing and potentially lucrative uses of industrial hemp is as a source of cannabidiol (CBD)– a product used to treat everything from anxiety to headaches to chronic pain.
A durable crop that grows well in varied climates and conditions, industrial hemp was grown profitably in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas in the 1700-1800s before a falling demand and strict federal regulation caused it to fall out of favor. Now that demand for CBD oil is high and restrictions on its cultivation have been relaxed, growers of conventional crops are bringing their experience and knowledge to bear on the growing of industrial hemp.
Likewise, established laboratory professionals have begun to seize the opportunity to create laboratories for the processing and analytical testing of industrial hemp. Here are 6 important considerations for those interested in diving into this new and potentially lucrative market?:
Start at the macro level. Examine your motives. Why are you considering this venture? How solid is your knowledge of product testing in general? What exactly do you plan to test? How will you establish credibility? Do you have a resource you can contact when you have questions or issues?
Get your ducks in a row. In most cases, you’ll need support from a business advisor or legal professional to secure the capital, apply for licenses, certifications, and accreditations, and maintain compliance with applicable laws and regulations. BaneBio is always looking to accommodate financial needs and funding options for our clients. Contact us to explore financing opportunities through BaneBio for your testing equipment needs.
Plan Your Set-up. Research and plan all the elements of your lab set-up carefully, especially from where you will source the equipment and resources you’ll need. Decide the scope of work you’re willing to do. For example, prior to analysis, the cannabinoids must be extracted from the source material. Are you also in the extraction business, or will you limit your lab’s capabilities to the analysis of liquid samples only?
Securing the equipment. Laboratories involved in comprehensive testing typically test for residual solvents, physical and microbial contamination, potency, and terpenes. A quality, refurbished instruments vendor like BaneBio can help outfit your lab at a fraction of the cost of new. For example, filters, evaporators, distillers, and other equipment needed for each step of the process are all available at lower price points through BaneBio, your scientific supermarket. See equipment list for details.
Potency Testing. In potency testing, a panel of cannabinoids (CBDs) is typically requested along with suggested analytes. For example, the THC level of industrial hemp grown in Maryland cannot exceed 0.3 percent. All instruments used to determine a crop’s potency testing must adhere to Maryland’s guidelines and standards.
Get Training. Because the scientific testing of cannabis is still its infancy, you can expect training programs to vary widely by state. For those with Bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, or who already have experience with general-use lab equipment, technical institutes may offer training on specialized instruments needed for hemp testing. Check for hands-on training for equipment operation, testing methods, troubleshooting, and more.
As more is learned about cannabis sativa, procedures associated with it for cultivating, harvesting, extracting, testing, and manufacturing will change and evolve– an important thing for potential lab owners and technicians to bear in mind.