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ASTM Announces Symposium on Contaminants in the Cannabis and Hemp Industry

By Robert Thomas

, Cary Black

Published: Mar 07, 2023   
Cannabis material in vial, up close.

Image credit: iStock

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Contamination is considered the Achilles’ Heel of the cannabis industry. Whether it’s heavy metals, pesticides, microbes, residual solvents, or any other type of contaminant, it remains a significant challenge to eliminate contaminants from the cannabinoid cultivation and manufacturing process. Even though we have a good understanding of where they come from, it is still problematic to completely mitigate them. For example, we know that cannabis plants grown outdoors are susceptible to damage and disease from insects and pathogens, that’s why every jurisdiction that approves the use of cannabis has a list of pesticides with allowable limits to ensure they are considered safe to use.

But what if a cultivator decides to use a pesticide that is not approved in their jurisdiction, does the testing community have the ability to identify and quantify it, so the appropriate action can be taken? In addition, contaminants such as heavy metals are known to be taken up by the plant during the growing stage, but less is understood about how the pollutants can enter the product from other sources such as extraction, production, packaging, or delivery. These are all questions that the cannabis industry has been struggling to answer for the past few years.

ASTM D37 Contaminants Symposium

With this as background information, we are very honored to announce that we have been asked to co-chair the three-day virtual ASTM D37 Symposium on Contaminants in the Cannabis and Hemp Industry and Their Impact on Consumer Safety to be held October 10-12, 2023. The symposium will provide a forum for evaluating the current evidence and gaps regarding the presence of contaminants that pose a risk to consumer health and safety in cannabis and hemp products.

In particular, it will focus on evaluating not only known sources of contamination from cultivation, plant uptake, extraction, processing, manufacturing, packaging, and delivery, but also from others that we might not be currently aware of. The information presented will provide a foundation for the development of standards related to conducting risk assessments based on common sources of contamination to enable sound approaches to identify and mitigate them.

Abstract submission

If you have a contribution to make on this topic, please consider participating in the symposium by submitting an abstract no later than March 31, 2023. To be considered, abstracts must include a clear definition of the objective and approach of the work discussed, pointing out material that is new, and present sufficient details regarding the results generated. In addition, authors of papers of significant merit may be asked to write a full manuscript for peer reviewed published in the ASTM Journal of Testing and Evaluation.

More information about the symposium and abstract submission can be found at this link.

Robert Thomas

Principal of Scientific Solutions

Rob is a heavy metals expert and has written for Analytical Cannabis on the subject since 2019. Through his consulting company Scientific Solutions, he has helped educate countless professionals in the cannabis testing community on heavy metal analysis. He is also an editor and frequent contributor of the Atomic Perspectives column in Spectroscopy magazine, and has authored five textbooks on the principles and applications of mass spectrometry. Rob has an Advanced Degree in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Wales, UK, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a chartered chemist.

Cary Black

Consultant and CEO of CK Black Group

Cary. Black is an accomplished and results-driven analytical chemist, ASQ-certified quality engineer (CQE), QMS Auditor, Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI), Sports Equipment Institute (SEI) Auditor, cGMP, Sports Equipment, and PPE consultant with multiple skill sets and 35+ years’ experience in project management, developer of training programs, analytical laboratory experience, lead auditor, quality control and assurance, consulting, technical writing, risk analyses, process engineering/process improvement, continuous improvement champion and trainer, polymeric chemistry, lean manufacturing, statistical process control (SPC), research and development, EU GMP, US FDA, NAFP, NOCSAE regulations.


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