AOAC Announces Working Groups on Cannabis

Leading scientists developing standards and Official Methods for cannabis products and hemp

May 30, 2019 (Rockville, MD)—AOAC INTERNATIONAL today announced the formation of working groups for the Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP), a collaborative scientific initiative to approve consensus methods for the analysis of cannabis, hemp and related food products.

“Currently, no globally-recognized standards and methods exist for validating the safety, potency, and label claims of cannabis products available to consumers,” said Seth Wong, owner of TEQ Analytical Laboratories in Colorado. “This undermines public confidence and exposes the cannabis industry to risk.

“As one of the world’s oldest and most trusted leaders in consensus scientific standards for food safety, AOAC is uniquely placed to play this key role,” he added.

Worldwide, more than 50 countries permit regulated medical cannabis. In the United States, 47 states have legalized cannabis in one form or another addressing an adult-use market of 80 million people.1 The U.S. cannabis industry’s projected total market sales are estimated to exceed US $24 billion by 2025.2

Three AOAC working groups will develop standards for analytical methodology used to measure cannabinoid levels, and chemical contaminants in marijuana and hemp plant materials,  and to detect pathogens in cannabis. Scientists interested in joining a CASP working group are encouraged to contact Scott Coates, CASP Program Leader at AOAC, at scoates@aoac.org or by phone at 301-924-7077 ext. 137.

The Microbiological Contaminants working group will be co-chaired by Patrick Bird and Julia Bramante. Bird is the owner of PMB BioTek Consulting and an active member of the food safety community for the last 15 years. Julia Bramante is the Marijuana Reference Laboratory Lead Scientist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

The Chemical Contaminants working group will be chaired by Dr. Susan Audino, an analytical chemist who has served as consultant to numerous cannabis laboratories, advisory boards, and state regulatory bodies.

The working group on Cannabinoids in Consumables will be chaired by Dr. Holly Johnson, Chief Science Officer at the American Herbal Products Association and an analytical chemist with over 20 years‘ experience in natural products chemistry.

Standards developed by the workgroups will be used to evaluate candidate laboratory methods submitted to AOAC’s rigorous Performance Tested Methods℠ and Official Methods of Analysis℠ programs.

“AOAC began work on cannabis two years ago on an ad hoc basis,” said AOAC Executive Director Dave Schmidt. “The launch of the CASP program represents a major commitment by AOAC and the laboratory community to use analytical science to promote public health.”  



1. New Frontier Data, State of the Cannabis Union, 2019
2. Forbes, Marijuana Industry projected to create more jobs than manufacturing by 2020, 2017