Rockville, Maryland, November 10, 2021 – AOAC INTERNATIONAL announced that Agilent has received approval of an analytical method for the determination of heavy metals in cannabis. The method, OMA 2021.03, jointly developed by Agilent and CEM, which uses inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the quantitation of arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), and other elements, was recognized by AOAC, an international organization that helps advance the safety of food and related products through its involvement in the development and standardization of analytical methods.
Legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana in many regions in the United States and Canada has dramatically increased the demand for cannabis, hemp, and related products. Like food, which is regulated under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) methods and guidelines, and pharmaceuticals, which adhere to United States Pharmacopeia (USP) regulation, cannabis is a consumer product that requires testing to ensure its safety. Among the necessary tests is analysis of heavy metals, which may be toxic if ingested or inhaled. However, states and provinces have their own guidance and set their own regulations due to a lack of federal oversight, making it difficult to guarantee consistent product quality.
The approved method passed rigorous review by a panel of analytical science experts in AOAC’s Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) and is the first method approved by AOAC for this use. The accuracy and precision of the ICP-MS-based method met the AOAC Standard Method Performance Requirements for Determination of Heavy Metals in a Variety of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products (SMPR 2020.001) for all elements of interest.
“It is exciting to see a method approved as an AOAC CASP First Action Official Method of Analysis that addresses heavy metals testing in cannabis and related products,” said Julie Kowalski, independent consultant and CASP working group chair. “This method provides the cannabis analytical science community a gold standard which is especially critical for our young market. I appreciate and thank the method authors, Jenny Nelson and Craig Jones, and other CASP volunteers for their careful work in bringing this method to fruition. With this addition to the suite of CASP contaminants methods, testing labs, regulators, and consumers can feel confident that AOAC is making strides to ensure quality testing and ultimately product safety.”
Amir Liba, associate vice president of Laboratory Solutions Sales at Agilent, echoed the significance of the approval. “Analysis of metals in cannabis is a hot topic, and there has been a lack of standardization, accreditation, and official methods in the industry, with several instances of questionable data resulting,” Liba said. “Agilent is committed to partnering with cannabis industry leadership to develop ways to advance consumer safety. This AOAC-approved method went through in-depth review and was met with consensus among AOAC experts, which is a tribute to the high-quality results that can be achieved.”