Shortly after announcing the launch of our G908™ 3-in-1 Cannabis Analyzer, I had the opportunity to take it on the road. This was exciting on a personal level and for 908 Devices as a company. As a relative newcomer to this market, we were eager to meet with individuals across the cannabis supply chain to better understand their business practices, pain points, and just how they saw our portable and simple analyzer making their jobs easier and adding value.

My travels took me from the west coast all the way to New York state, with stops in cities across Oregon and Colorado. During these visits, I had the chance to see various grow and testing facilities and to speak with lab technicians, growers, extractors, and manufacturers.

The cannabis industry is truly one-of-a-kind. The lack of federal sanction has many young businesses facing challenges that few others have experienced.  It’s also instilled a degree of cautiousness, which can make becoming part of such a tight-knit community challenging. Given the tumultuous nature of the market, this sentiment is understandable, and we’re grateful to the businesses that opened their doors to us and shared their stories.

Talking About Testing

Every encounter I had was different, but a recurring theme throughout my trip was the need for a rapid and simple means to test product in-house.  This was clearly a pain point for growers and producers, who currently rely on third-party lab testing for both product quality control (QC) and batch certification.  While recognizing the important role third-party labs play within this industry, providing essential seed-to-shelf stamps of approval, the ability to perform certain rapid on-site QC tests can significantly improve productivity, product quality and, ultimately, the bottom line.

I heard from many folks on my trip that lab turnaround takes time. One individual said it sometimes takes up to five days to receive results – which is a significant amount of time to wait when dealing with any type of plant or plant-based product. With such delays, it’s highly likely that submitted samples could no longer be representative of growing or harvested material –  thereby negatively impacting harvesting and production decisions.

The ability to test on-site using G908 at various stages throughout the harvesting and production process ensures products are meeting expectations and gives businesses the opportunity to quickly take corrective action if they are not. This also gives producers an edge come lab testing time, allowing them to submit batch samples for certification with an added degree of confidence.

Prioritizing Product Consistency

While the need to move product swiftly through state mandated testing is critical, so is product consistency. This is an area where on-site testing plays a vital role – as part of what’s referred to as QA/QC, quality assurance and quality control. Although QA/QC is an integral part of most industries, think pharmaceuticals, it’s a relatively new concept in the cannabis industry.

In many cases, products may pass state safety certification, but can still vary greatly in quality from batch-to-batch. For example, I met with an individual in Oregon who showed me 20 different batches of shatter, all of which were different colors and consistencies. In fact, of all the companies I spoke with, there was only one that appeared to have implemented a rigorous product QA/QC program.

As the cannabis market continues to gain legitimacy on a national scale and more regulations are promulgated, QA/QC processes will be imperative for companies to be successful. As with existing consumable products, users will come to expect certain quality standards and deviations affect acceptability as time goes on, making this a key focus area for many companies.

We were thrilled by the positive reception G908 received in this regard. Many of the people I spoke with immediately recognized the potential for this versatile and compact analyzer to ease their testing burden and make ongoing QA/QC an affordable reality. Unlike many of the complex and bulky instruments used today, G908 is simpler to operate, automatically performs analyses faster, and can easily be moved from the lab and into the field for on-the-spot testing.

It can also be packed up (as I did, stowing it in my trunk for this trip) and brought to different grow/extraction locations to ensure consistent product testing across facilities. What’s more, its ability to run different tests, seamlessly switching between total potencyterpenes and residual solvents, means significant savings in both time and money.

These are exciting times for the cannabis business, with a growing number of states joining the legalized fraternity. Implementing best practices for product QC and certification testing will be critical to remaining competitive as this industry continues to expand and mature.

Those interested in learning more about G908 are encouraged to visit us at the upcoming Cannabis Science Conference in Portland at booth #139 and to attend my presentation on Rapid, Accurate & Automated Residual Solvent, Terpene and Total Potency Analysis using a Compact Ultrafast GC Analyzer with FID and High Pressure Mass Based Detection on August 30 at 3:10 p.m. For more information, visit http://908devices.com/events/cannabis-science-conference-portland/.

By Graham Shelver, Commercial Leader, Applied Markets, ‎908devices