Ottawa University Develops Handheld Cannabinoid Analysis Tool

The cannabis plant is famous mostly for producing THC, the compound responsible for cannabis’s psychotropic high, and cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive agent in the cannabis plant. CBD has earned a name for itself over the years as a versatile, efficient solution to a variety of medical conditions. People with conditions like anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and a host of other mild and severe conditions have reported impressive results after using CBD.

Despite this, cannabidiol remains mostly unregulated, and this has left the industry in a state of lawlessness, with sellers making unsubstantiated claims and selling products with different levels of CBD than what was advertised. The CBD sector has even been referred to as the ‘Wild West’ with some producers selling products whose quality is sullied by THC and other contaminants.

However, recently developed technology may alleviate the tenuous situation somewhat. The University of Ottawa is working on a device that will be able to analyze the CBD content of marijuana within seconds. Zachary Comeau, a graduate student, led the research in collaboration with Ottawa University Professors Dr. Adam Shuhendler, Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, Dr. Benoit Lessard from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Dr. Cory Harris from the Department of Biology.

The researchers from the university devised a tool that measures the ratio of the two main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The miniature, affordable device also comes with technology that helps cannabis producers and law enforcement agencies perform on-the-spot analyses. Dr. Harris says that since the device is capable of detecting THC and CBD directly from vaporized or burnt samples, low-cost environmental testing is also possible, which is essential for enforcing zero cannabis use policies. “For example, police officers can activate the sensor, which would provide an objective reading of the THC and CBD in a vehicle, where cannabis use is currently prohibited under Canadian Law.”

The research team states that the handheld device can be used to analyze plant extracts, vaporized or burnt cannabis, and makes affordable, comfortable, and portable analysis accessible to everyone. “Cannabis analysis is done remotely by licensed producers to determine the THC: CBD ratio which will then tell them if their particular plant is better suited for medical or recreational use,” says Dr. Lessard, “However, this testing is currently done with complex, slow and expensive analytical techniques. The affordability and simplicity of our device would not only lower the cost and expedite testing for licensed producers, but would also make cannabis characterization possible for consumers and home growers as well. No such technology existed for cannabis quality control previously.”

Analysts believe such technology would be very useful for CBD companies like Neutra Corp. (OTCQB: NTRR) and VIVO Cannabis Inc. (TSX.V: VIVO) (OTCQX: VVCIF) in many ways, such as when they are buying hemp dry matter from farmers.

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