During this podcast we had an opportunity to chat with Vince Murone, Chemist & Director of Australian Cannabis Laboratories about Cannabis Testing, Consistency of products, TGA testing, black market testing, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes.
0:58 – Vince Murone has been working in the background of the cannabis industry by providing testing facility and knowledge for the industry. He believes that through his laboratory, he has helped the industry understand the quality of cannabis.
2:11 – Vince explains that due to his background in analytical chemistry, he is skilled to carry out tests for environmental residue in any matrix. He elaborates that his lab registered about 4 years ago where he uses tools to understand the baseline set by TGA guidelines and then carry out mandated testing based on that. He also details the Chromatographic tools used to implement mandated testing of TGO 93.
4:53 – Vince agreed that TGO 93 was the minimum quality standard set up specifically for any medicinal cannabis botanical. He asserts that this assessment sets out the procedures for testing based on a series of schedules as implemented in Europe.
7:17 – Vince noted that several attempts have been made to test black market product. However, he was of the view that it was not a big issue as the products from legitimate market are far better as compared to black market ones.
9:05 – While accepting a product for sampling, Vince spelled out that the source of medicine was always inquired so as to discourage black market products.
10:03 – Vince clarified that diagnostic home based kits are generally available to test the amount of THC or level of contamination in any product. He also enlightened the audience that people were usually reluctant to provide their basic details on submission of a sample.
12:04 – Vince elucidated upon the mechanism of lab with eloquent details. He described that upon arrival, the botanical material is logged in and the tests required are ticked off. Afterwards, he clarified that the sample was homogenised in a grinder so as to extract and dilute the subsample.
15:57 – In response to a question, Vince deciphered that the sample is then injected into a stainless steel column where cannabinoids are separated along the way. From there, he illustrate that a UV detector was used to carry out various tests with the help of sample absorbance.
18:37 – Vince clarified that different quantities of cannabinoids were separated from botanical flower having diverse therapeutic levels.
21:16 – Vince delved in detail into the interesting topic of terpenes and entourage effect. He described the unique set of terpenes produced by medicinal cannabis which are not seen in other plants. He agreed that generally, terpenes were present around 0.1 to 0.5% in medicinal cannabis.
24:06 – While answering the question, Vince was of the view that despite people’s interests, Flavonoid testing was not currently a viable option for laboratory owing to expensive testing facility requirements.
26:27 – Vince explained that the random testing scenario was indeed a wakeup call for industry. He elaborated that the two product lines tested by his lab were found within the allowable certainty level put forward by TGA. He also expressed his disappointment on the overlooking of significant parameters including correction for moisture level during this scenario.
31:21 – Vince explained the mechanism of water correction for measuring THC. He was of the view that both THCA and THC levels must be mentioned individually and collectively on all products.
32:52 – Vince elaborated upon the lack of standardisation in testing phase of medicinal cannabis. He was of the view that proficiency programs were needed to find viable testing methods. He also expounded on the role of AOIC in standardisation process which addresses the potency issues using recognised international standardisation procedures.
36:55 – Vince endorsed the GMP Model set out by TGA 4 years ago and asserted that it needed to be accepted. He described that although his lab was a small non-accredited setup with research profile, however, they still needed to work hard to receive GMP accreditation for stability testing and acceptance in international jurisdiction.
39:46 – Vince expressed hope that GMP model will have a positive impact on everything including pricing and accessibility.
41:50 – In response to a question, Vince threw light on different methods of extraction. While talking about pros and cons of each method, he said that while Ethanol is safe and inexpensive solvent to use, however, it has the residue issue. On the other hand, he believed that as a powerful non-polar solvent, CO2 required presence of specialised people while having horrendous impact on environment.
45:00 – Vince agreed that the concerns about ethanol residue and its overall impact were genuine as generous amounts were detected in the end product.
46:53 – Vince stated quite clearly that while he enjoyed the lab aspect of medicinal cannabis, however, he never tasted cannabis at all. He cautioned that some products could have rancidity issues. He believed that a lot more work needs to be done for including researchers into the stream of testing so as to diversify the normal testing procedures.
50:20 – Vince disclosed that the resins submitted by researchers are being tested as well. He asserted that Cannabis is a fascinating product and is here to stay indefinitely.
51:59 – Vince declared that despite of state of the art facilities, the amounts submitted to labs in the form of 100 gm or more batch could become a challenge for a laboratory as they have to send back the product quickly.
Australian Cannabis Laboratories