The second annual Cannabis Science Conference was held this year at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR, August 28-30th. Building off the momentum of the 2016 inaugural event which drew over 750 attendees from all across the globe, this year's conference included successful programs, new initiatives, and no shortage of interesting topics for discussion.

There was an impressive consortium of vendors with over 80 booths representing a wide range of specialties: cultivation tips, cannabis processing methods, analytical equipment and new technologies, lab informatics and software, and the list goes on. Here are a few of the many highlights.

Along the medicinal cannabis front, there were a number of conversations around the significance of cannabinoids as natural products with relatively untapped potential. The need for more in-depth scientific studies and structured clinical trials to uncover the true strengths of the drug were among the discussions. For those medical indications that are currently targeted, there were serious discussions about the need for evolving methods to keep medicinal products and consumables safe -- particularly as more groups venture into the realm. There were also some varying thoughts about the current role of big pharma in the cannabis industry.

Beyond all of this chatter was the undeniable presence of the vendors, many of whom seemed less interested in basic techniques of the past and more heavily invested in accuracy, precision, high performance, and quality control as focal points of new technologies and products.

Restek is a formidable player in the analytical separations markets and has been invested in the medicinal cannabis field from the early days. They strive to be the chromatography source and partner for all applications, from well-established safety and potency labs to startup operations.

  • Restek Rxi GC columns are designed to deliver excellent separation performance for terpene and residual solvent analyses.
  • They also offer GC inlet liners to ensure samples are clean and free from contaminants.
  • The Raptor LC columns are optimized for target compound separations and cannabinoid profiling.
  • The Q-sep sample prep supplies are geared towards cutting down background and interferences of complex matrices.
  • Restek has a catalog of certified reference materials as well for potency and quality control testing applications.

These products aim to offer technical excellence and efficiency for evolving cannabis methods and applications.

An interesting approach towards cannabis laboratory solutions comes in the form of the 2017 new lab resource guide from Cannabis Scientific. This guide is meant to serve as a product checklist and catalog of product categories. The objective is to get startup or expanding cannabis testing labs outfitted with a full complement of resources.

Cannabis Scientific acts a distributor to source and connect customers with the products they need. As a subsidiary of a major scientific supplier, the company prides itself on being able to supply customers a full portfolio of items and value in the form of product support and knowledge. With access to instruments, equipment, consumables and more, from over 1500 different suppliers, Cannabis Scientific appears capable to deliver on these objectives.

As the cannabis industry grows, labs are becoming increasingly inundated with data and logistical information. A burgeoning area of the industry includes laboratory information management systems (LIMS) designed to bring order to the mounting operational chaos. The use of these systems will be essential as processing and testing labs become subject to standardized and rigid regulations, and the higher level of scrutiny that comes with the territory.

CloudLIMS offers a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) LIMS suite for cannabis testing laboratories. Two platforms include Biotracer advanced sample management software and CloudLIMS Lite lab information management software. The key benefits include 360 degree traceability for automating cannabis testing operations and comprehensive compliance features that follow 21 CFR Part 11 guidelines. The systems require minimal investment in IT infrastructure and offer multilevel security, automated data backup, and superior uptime. This coupled with features to allow users to access, track, and transact information from anywhere, equates to reliable data management with forward thinking capabilities.

Cannabis information management will continue to be a hot area of development as labs big and small - private testing labs to pharmaceutical companies - continue to grow in scale and evolve with new regulations.

Continuing along the lines of innovative new technologies are the data access products from Knalysis Technologies. These products were developed directly with an extensive network of clinicians in the medicinal marijuana field, and are designed to offer better monitoring of symptoms, treatments, and effects for both physicians and patients.

The wellness tracker app allows users to actively engage in their health monitoring and treatments involving medical marijuana. Over 50 ailments and 100 moods and symptoms can be integrated with health details in order to assist in determining which strains and therapies are best suited to the patient.

The Analytics Web Portal empowers companies to track the efficacy of their strains in real time. The online subscription service stores and reports on all of the data collected from the app captured from industry data, publications, and other sources. The goal here is to allow dispensaries, growers, and researchers to benefit from complete and comprehensive reporting. The data includes key factors such as the efficacy of strains/phenotypes over time with regards to illnesses -- guiding decision making, prescriptions, and supply patterns.

An overall objective of these technologies is to connect the entire medical marijuana field, while offering products with the potential to serve as catalysts for future software development.

The diversity of products, services, and technologies make comprehensive reporting of this year's Cannabis Science Conference a challenge. Many of these subjects and the underlying companies will undoubtedly surface throughout future editions of Cannabis Laboratory. With curious anticipation we await next year's conference and the exciting innovations to be showcased.