Dr Serge Schneider and Dr Claude Schummer, together with team members of the LNS analytical toxicology and food surveillance units, have just published the results of their work on quality assessment of cannabidiol-rich cannabis extracts purchased on the internet, with Dr Serge Schneider, as corresponding author.
Following demonstration of the positive effects of cannabis on different health conditions, there is an exponential increase in purchases of high cannabidiol (CBD) and low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extracts on the internet. For the moment, neither the processing methods of extraction nor the acceptance criteria of analytical quality control methods are standardized.
In this study, Dr Serge Schneider, Dr Claude Schummer, together with Dr Georges Dahm, Dr Carole Dauberschmidt and master student Anais Rodrigues, have analysed 24 different CBD rich extracts, purchased from online suppliers, applying validated and CEN norm-compliant HPLC/UV, GC/MS, GC/MS/MS, LC/MS/MS and ICP-MS methods.
In the majority of the products, the CBD content was lower than what the supplier announced. Because cannabis is still an illegal product in many European countries, there is a lack of regulations on contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals in cannabis. The LNS team performed a thorough screening for no less than 177 pesticides and found one fungicide, namely propamocarb in 3 products. This pesticide is used against cancer caused by Pleosporales fungi and does not pose a toxicity risk. Cannabis is known to be easily absorbing metals from the soil. And indeed, the LNS team found cadmium, mercury, tin, lead and copper, in all samples, however at concentrations below the limits set by European Regulation. Finally, residual solvents ethanol and isopropanol were found in 4 products. Isopropanol should not be used in extraction processes for human consumption because acetone, its main metabolite, is a central nervous system depressor.
These results have just been published in the journal Forensic Science & Addiction Research, DOI: 10.31031/FSAR.2021.05.000620
This work is a demonstration of the scientific expertise and the effective teamwork between the two LNS Departments, Legal Medicine and Health Protection, and contributes to paving the way for the further development of the LNS Cannabis Lab operations.