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The Determination of Total THC and CBD Content in Cannabis Flower by Fourier Transform Near Infrared Spectroscopy

As the industry moves towards legitimization, understanding the cannabinoid concentrations along the cultivation and processing path is critical for assuring the quality and safety of cannabis products.

The medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis-related products has experienced astronomical growth over the past decade. Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Columbia now have legal cannabis markets. In the United States, 30 states plus the District of Columbia have passed legislation permitting the use of medicinal cannabis. Of these 30 states, nine have laws permitting the use of recreational cannabis. As the industry moves towards legitimization, understanding the cannabinoid concentrations along the cultivation and processing path is critical for assuring the quality and safety of cannabis products.

The potency of cannabis flower is commonly defined as the concentration of the two predominant cannabinoids, namely tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Valuation of the flower is influenced by this potency metric. As such, the accurate and reliable determination of potency is of great economic importance to all stakeholders in the cannabis supply chain. Traditionally, potency has been determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Although HPLC provides a full
cannabinoid profile, several disadvantages are associated with its use. Sample destruction, complex instrumentation, hazardous chemicals and longer sample preparation times limit its deployment directly at the grow site where a rapid and non-destructive process is desirable. These limitations have prompted cultivators to seek a faster and user-friendly alternative to HPLC. One such technique is Fourier transform near-infrared (FT-NIR) spectroscopy. FT-NIR is a remarkably versatile and robust analytical
technique and has enjoyed tremendous success in a variety of applications for both the qualitative and quantitative determination of analytes on the percent level. To this end, we present FT-NIR spectroscopy as a rapid and cost-effective tool for the quantitative determination of potency in dried cannabis flower.

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