The 3rd annual Cannabis Science Conference, held at the Portland Convention Center August 28-29, delivered an impressive crop of new products and services. Combined with exciting research and inspiring presentations, the meeting this year was a truly epic event.

This year’s show hosted a pre-conference boot camp, three main cannabis tracks with keynote speakers, a docs and jocks panel, and more.

Following on the heels of last year’s Canna Boot Camp, this year’s workshop encompassed the full spectrum from cultivation, pre-processing, and sample prep, to analytical testing, extraction, and edibles manufacturing. No leaf was left unturned, as vendors joined forces to demonstrate techniques, instruments, and techniques – and to share colorful stories of course.

The Analytical Cannabis Track included talks around the molecular and analytical basis of activity and testing. The Medicinal Cannabis Track included discussion on current development and emerging applications for cannabis therapeutics. While the Cultivation Track focused on cannabis plant biology, indoor and outdoor growth considerations, and cost logistics, to name a few topics.

Developments and future prospects in the cannabis industry are both widespread and compelling.

As such, we are forced to reserve time and space for specific topics in subsequent articles. We take a moment here to list – just a sampling – of the many interesting vendors and goods that were showcased this year.

Cannabis compound purification and testing

  • Restek has been at the forefront of specialized chromatography solutions. These include a bounty of technical developments centered around cannabinoid analysis and quantification. An example of forward facing technology, the Raptor ARC-18 columns were on display at the show among other high-performance columns and hardware. A recent technical article from Restek demonstrated the use of these ARC-18 columns in a fast, 9-minute separation of 16 cannabinoids using a simple isocratic LC method with UV detection. The benefits of the method include easy transfer between instruments, as opposed to more complex and tedious operations. View Restek product listings.
  • As mentioned, Phenomenex has grown an impressive presence in the cannabis field. The full suite of cannabis resources was showcased – columns and hardware to testing guides and method tutorials. With experts on-site to engage visitors, it’s clear that Phenomenex is "committed to helping scientists reach new heights for testing and analysis".
  • Sorbtech was present to discuss decontamination of toxic compounds from cannabis preparations. The host of products and solutions available are meant to help processors achieve clean cannabis extracts and products. Separation resins, analytical instrumentation, lab supplies and more.
  • As the title sponsor, Shimadzu hosted a range of engaging talks and a cocktail hour among other outstanding offerings. These events were consistent with the depth and commitment Shimadzu has shown in the cannabis testing field. A range of analytical instruments and consumables were present as well, as was a contingent of experts offering insights and solutions. Shimadzu definitely brings a strong presence to this conference. View Shimadzu product listings.
  • Perkin Elmer showcased an entire suite of instrumentation, methods, and consumables built for cannabis testing and quality control. The offerings are designed to enable analysis of a range of samples from raw flower to finished concentrates. From LC-MS/MS instrumentation for pesticide and potency testing, to pre-configured methods for solvents and terpenes analysis by GC-MS, Perkin Elmer has the background and portfolio to advance the analytical cannabis field. View Perkin Elmer product listings.

Cannabis sample prep and testing standards

  • LGC provides a wide array of reference standards for applications ranging from food testing to pharmaceutical analysis, among others. The products are designed with special attention to quality and analytical performance. On display was the catalog of cannabis reference standards for cannabis purity and terpene mixes.
  • Emerald Scientific and SPEX CertiPrep showcased their collaboration to provide state specific pesticide and residual solvents standards. This includes a comprehensive list of Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) for each state pesticides and residual solvents testing requirements. The list is matched with CRM mixes and packages, offering a central avenue for securing high quality CRM products from two leaders in the industry. View Emerald Scientific product listings. View SPEX SamplePrep listings.

Cannabis ID and testing transparency

  • Plant and strain type (chemovar) identification is challenging in a world of widespread hybridization and inconsistent plant breeding and handling practices. Technologies are addressing these issues to help stratify cannabis products and improve consumer safety.
  • Meridian Bioscience was present showcasing their plant sexing and novel trait PCR products, as well as anti-THC antibodies and antigens. The MyTaq Plant-PCR kits offer fast and highly-specific identification of distinct genetic markers in select cannabis strains. SensiFast No-ROX mix is meant for plant sexing. The anti-THC products are suited for ELISA analysis of plant, saliva, and other substances.

The issue of testing transparency and harmonization is critically important, particularly as lab operations expand and new testing labs emerge.

  • Confident Cannabis has built a custom system to track testing results and collate chemovar information to infuse transparency and consumer confidence into cannabis products. With regulations lagging and self-reporting lacking, the Confident Cannabis solution is to connect laboratories, integrate data, and create a central hub to access information.

Upcoming cannabis conferences and publications

No conference would be complete without discussions of upcoming events.

  • Analytical Cannabis is hosting an inaugural Expo, April 2019 in San Francisco, CA. This unique cannabis industry event will focus on the best cannabis extraction and testing science. This is a must attend event for anyone interested in testing, extraction, consumer safety and other areas of the industry.
  • BMC, as part of Springer Nature, is looking for authors to join the thematic journal series entitled, Clinical Cannabis. The objectives with this series is to bring together clinical cannabis publication-caliber research in a central forum.

The Cannabis Science Conference continues to grow, both in the depth of scientific discussions and the breadth of technologies on display. Next year’s meeting is certain to be interesting -- keeping in stride with this ever-changing industry.

View the growing LabX catalog of Cannabis Laboratory content.