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Cannabis Analysis – We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

  • Amanda Rigdon
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A little less than a year ago at Pittcon in Chicago, my colleague Frank Dorman from the Pennsylvania State University and I sat down over beers with Ken Snoke and Wes Burk from Emerald Scientific, a small startup distribution business for cannabis labs. We were joined by Bill and Christi Schroeder and Ted Flood from Cal-Green Solutions, a startup cannabis testing lab. Our discussion revolved around the analytical side of the cannabis industry, current methods, and challenges facing both new and established labs. A couple of rounds later, we had landed on the idea that the cannabis analytical industry needed a robust proficiency testing program starting with cannabis potency analysis for GC and LC…and a conference.  The idea was that this conference would be an opportunity for scientific members of the cannabis industry to network, learn, and collaborate.

Cannabis Summit 2014

A couple of days later, Frank and I returned to Pennsylvania to resume our ongoing projects, but Ken and Wes, with the help of Cliff Beneventi, seized on the idea of a conference and ran with it (they also ran with the PT program, but that’s not what this post is about). Less than a year later, on January 23rd, the first annual Emerald Conference was held. Just before the conference we were all a little nervous. Would we get more than two dozen attendees? Will the speakers give interesting presentations? Will attendees be engaged? By the afternoon of the 23rd, we all knew that the conference was a smashing success. In-depth and insightful presentations were given to a sold-out audience of over one hundred and twenty engaged, attentive, and professional attendees. Panel discussions were lively and immensely valuable. Ideas were being exchanged, and the atmosphere was one of friendly collaboration both between labs and with vendors. It was incredible! Here’s a sampling of some of the talks and that were included in the conference:

Dr. Jeffrey Raber: “Scientific Frontiers in Cannabis”

Dr. Rodger Voelker: “Sampling Variability among Cannabis Flower”

Dr. Frank Dorman: “Potency with Simultaneous Incurred Pesticide Testing”

Emerald conference 2015

The Emerald Conference reflects the increasing legitimacy of this industry, and its rapid growth and maturation from a scientific standpoint. I’d like to thank Ken, Wes, and Cliff for putting together such a great conference for the cannabis community. I think everyone who attended is already looking forward to next year!

Before presenting my talk at the conference, I noted that I had been working with the cannabis analytical industry for several years now, and that the progress I’ve seen from the industry in terms of analytical technique and good science has been incredible. Can the industry improve? Of course. But in my experience, I’ve never met a group of scientists so driven, passionate, and hungry for knowledge and good science. It’s been a real pleasure. I don’t want to be bossy, but cannabis scientists need to take a minute and congratulate themselves on their work to date…now get back to work!