AOAC’s Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP) is a forum where the science of hemp and cannabis analysis can be discussed and cannabis standards and methods developed.

Consumption of cannabis products is legal or becoming legal in a growing number of US states and in Canada. Consumable products include beverages, brownies, butter, chews, cookies, gummies, honey, edible oils, and more. CASP was formed to provide the consensus-driven standards and methods to promote accuracy in label potency claims and to address public safety issues such as pathogens and residual solvents.

With the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the ‘Farm Bill’), the hemp-derived CBD market is projected to reach $22 billion by 2022. CASP is developing analytical tools for accurate measurement of CBD in hemp plants and derived ingredients, in dietary supplements, and in pet foods.

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Scope and objectives

  • Develop SMPRs for cannabis and hemp
  • Extend a Call for Methods for each of the completed SMPRs
  • Empanel an Expert Review Panel to review candidate methods with a goal of delivering consensus-based First Action and Final Action Official Methods.

Working groups

Currently, three AOAC working groups are developing standards for analytical methodology to:

  • measure cannabinoid levels in marijuana and hemp plant materials;
  • measure chemical contaminants in marijuana and hemp plant materials;
  • detect pathogens in cannabis;
  • identify the training and education needs of the cannabis community; and
  • identify the proficiency testing needs of the cannabis community.

The Microbiological Contaminants working group is 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 is 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 is 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. 

The Training and Education (T & E) working group is chaired by Dr. Toby Astill, Senior Business Manager, Cannabis and Hemp Markets for PerkinElmer.  The T & E working will identify the training and education needs of the cannabis community, and seek opportunities collaborate with other training and education programs.

The Proficiency Testing working group is chaired by Dr. Walter Brent  Wilson, who is a Research Scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  Dr. Wilson is coordinating the CSD Cannabis research program at NIST with a focus on developing Cannabis reference materials and a Quality Assurance Program (CannaQAP).  The proficiency testing working group will identify the proficiency testing needs of the cannabis community, and seek opportunities collaborate with other proficiency testing programs.

Get involved

The CASP analytical community comprises government, academic, and private sector laboratories and organizations. Together, they are supporting this initiative through direct financial support and by contributing their expertise.

For businesses, participating in the development of consensus standards and methods positions your organization as a leader in the cannabis and hemp analytical community. AOAC may also offer use of a specially designed AOAC CASP certification mark.

Scientists, academics and government contributors gain reference methods that result in reliable data to support effective compliance-driven quality control of products and enhance public health.

There are many ways to get involved:

Scientists interested in working on CASP are encouraged to contact Scott Coates, CASP Program Leader at AOAC, at [email protected] or by phone at 301-924-7077 ext. 137.