Lab Matters Spring 2017 - Page 11

feature relied heavily on methods developed by the US Pharmacopeial Convention, a nonprofit organization whose pharmaceutical standards are enforceable by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). health investigations and to be a technical resource to private laboratories,” said Heather Krug, MS, who coordinates the CDPHE marijuana laboratory inspection program. “The truth is, there is no single guidance that works,” said Marc A. Nascarella, PhD, chief toxicologist at MDPH and a contributor to the APHL cannabis guidance. “Cannabis is now being put into oils, resins, food products, suppositories, tinctures, creams, lotions, vape pens and, of course, cigarettes. It is much more than dry flower/plant testing.” The Proficiency Testing Conundrum MDPH conducts no cannabis testing itself, but is a resource for the four private labs doing quality control testing for Massachusetts’s registered medical dispensaries. MDPH also reviews the ISO-compliant laboratory reports the dispensaries are required to submit for a representative sample of their products. t least half of our funding is federal. I definitely had “ A some concerns about the potential for changes in the [federal] administration and enforcement of federal grant requirements regarding a drug-free workplace. Based on those reports, Nascarella said that levels of detection and levels of quantitation have gone down over the past two years or so. He said, “The labs are improving their methods; I think their techniques are getting better.” CDPHE is now populating a reference library with marijuana testing methods, relevant scientific literature and standard food and pharmaceutical test methods that can serve as a starting point for cannabis-related method development. Earlier this year, the agency asked the Colorado legislature to fund a marijuana reference laboratory in the state PHL, and that request has received preliminary approval. If okayed, “that would set us up to do Yet another hurdle stemming from US cannabis policy is the federal ban on transporting Schedule I substances across state lines. That means the laboratory reference materials used to validate testing protocols, conduct quality control checks and assure technicians’ testing proficiency must come from in-state. In Colorado, where “adult use” marijuana sales began January 2014, proficiency testing (PT) has been a complicated issue. Krug said that, from the beginning, Colorado’s 14 commercial cannabis-testing laboratories were required to participate in PT as soon as practicable or risk losing their state certifications. Then, two years ago, with no acceptable program yet available, the legislature handed CDPHE responsibility for cannabis PT. She said, “We basically set up a process where CDPHE oversees the production of PT samples and does the statistical analysis of all the results labs submit to us, but we use a private marijuana testing facility [that implements a CDPHE- developed protocol under CDPHE supervision] for the sample production and distribution.” The program initially focused on potency testing for cannabis flowers and is now working on developing PT samples for edibles and concentrates. “It’s a pretty good system,” Krug said. “We’re creating the samples from real marijuana. Each commercial lab tests the PT samples, and we use the robust mean of their results as the assigned PT value we grade the results against.” In the meantime, at least one commercial enterprise, Emerald Scientific, has begun offering cannabis PT samples and reference standards for sale. But to comply with interstate transport restrictions, the California-based company Weighing and pooling a medical cannabis sample in the Wadsworth Center PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org Spring 2017 LAB MATTERS 9