HomeNewsNew Hemp Reference Material Supports Cannabis Testing Accuracy

New Hemp Reference Material Supports Cannabis Testing Accuracy

The USA’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has made hemp reference material available to assist testing laboratories ensure their processes and equipment are working as they should.

In order for cannabis material to qualify as hemp in the USA, it must have 0.3% total THC or less – beyond that and it’s considered marijuana. To determine THC content, material must be tested; but results can vary lab to lab due to differences in processes and equipment.

“A farmer’s crop or a company’s product can be seized or potentially destroyed if it turns out to be a ‘hot’ material, so it’s important to make the correct determination,” said NIST chemist Walter Brent Wilson.

Accurate testing can be the difference as to whether a business/farmer succeeds – or is shut down. The new hemp material from NIST will help address testing challenges by serving as a reference that labs can use to ensure the accuracy of their measurements.

The material is initially sourced from commercially purchased dried hemp. It’s then ground and sieved to achieve a consistent particle size. Lower-THC material is added to bring the total THC concentration just below the legal threshold. The material, provided in units of three packets with 1.5 grams ground hemp in each, also includes measurements for heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and other toxic elements commonly tested for.

“People who use cannabis for medical reasons may be particularly concerned about safety,” said NIST biologist Colleen Bryan. “This reference material will help ensure that the cannabis they buy does not contain unsafe levels of toxic elements.”

The material is also accompanied by measurements for moisture content, helping labs accurately report the amounts of THC and other substances on a dry-weight basis. But it doesn’t come cheap, currently listed at $783.00 for 3 x 1.5g packets.

NIST is no stranger to creating reference materials, producing more than a thousand of them – everything from whole milk powder to, well, hemp.

More information on the hemp reference material is available here, and an analysis information sheet here.

The NIST, one of the one of the nation’s oldest physical science laboratories, was founded in 1901 and is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

Most Popular