Microwave-assisted Digestion of Various Cannabis Products for Trace Metal Analysis with ICP-MS

Due to the legalization of cannabis and the associated legislation concerning trace metal analysis the demand for fast and easy-to-use acid digestion techniques is increasing. HVT vessels with SmartVent technology enable the convenient and reliable digestion of cannabis-based products prior to spectroscopic analysis.

Although prohibited in the early 20th century, cannabis is now undergoing resurgence in medical and recreational use. In recent years more and more countries legalized the use of medical marijuana and Uruguay, Canada, Georgia and some US states also legalized recreational use of cannabis. Compared to the well-established system of cultivation, processing and sales of cannabis products, the governmental regulations of quality control are far behind. There is a lack of standardized methods and each state is currently responsible for regulating the quality controls, leading to multiple different legal situations. However, to ensure consumer safety and product quality cannabis-based products and the plant material itself must be tested for the potency of active ingredients, the presence of pesticides and toxic heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead. These metals are of special interest as they are hazardous to humans even at low concentrations.
During growth plants absorb trace elements from soil, fertilizers and pesticides which can accumulate in the plant material. This effect based on natural metabolism may lead to high concentrations of toxic heavy metals in cannabis plants which are transferred to the final products opening the possibility of harming the consumer. It is of governmental and producers interest to test for heavy metals content in order to ensure consumer safety and high product quality.
The industry provides a huge variety of cannabis-based products such as flower, edibles, inhalations, oils, tinctures, lotions and many more. All these different matrices cause unique challenges for sample preparation prior to analysis. Reactive samples like CBD oil or flower generate a huge amount of reaction gases during digestion which limits temperature and sample amount in hermetically closed vessels. A controlled release of reaction gases is ensured by HVT vessels with pressure-activated venting in order to guarantee high temperatures and excellent digestion quality of even larger sample sizes.
To demonstrate the suitability of HVT vessels with SmartVent technology for sample preparation of cannabis-based products prior to element analysis the recovery rates of spiked samples were determined for As, Cd, Hg, Pb.

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