May 2014 8 Questions for Ed Stremlow

May 11, 2014 | TylerMarkwart

The founder of Cannabis testing lab Analytical360 on creating new standards, and the expensive-but-necessary process of proving what's really in your bud.

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1. Analytical 360 was on Stone Way in Fremont and you are now in the middle of moving down to SoDo in Seattle.  How is the move going? 

We started the move on April 1 and we will be out of the Stone Way building and into the new building by May 1. We will be doing some work in the new SoDo building in between while we set up -- almost half and half.  We kind of wanted to do something a little bit different and we built our own tables, which are kind of artsy. We wanted to make it as comfortable as possible to work in. We’ve built everything in-house, pretty much the whole facility, including our lab software. We really like this location with all-concrete floors. We have a lot of usable lab space and it works well for us. 

2.  What types of technology do you use to test Cannabis samples?

We do mass spectrometry, HPLC and gas chromatography.  You know, there’s really no right piece of equipment for everything. Our residual solvents are tested on the GC, all the cannabinoids are done on the HPLC. Some things are tested more accurately on certain pieces of equipment. We like to test HPLC for all cannabinoids because the majority of the plant is in acid form. We want to see the plant in its original state and not only that, we also want to be able to tell people if they have activated their concentrates. We also currently have a terpene profile that we’re running on the HPLC. We will be doing a more extended profile on GC when we get more settled in after the move.

3. How long does it take you to run an average sample?

From beginning to start, it’s 48 hours; sometimes up to 72 hours, if we have to do any reruns … but usually the information is available on the Internet within 48 hours. Sometimes the testing is more difficult because we don’t know the parameters of what they are putting into the edibles so we have to adjust the dilution factors and make a couple of runs sometimes to figure it out.  

4. Do you see any difference between samples taken from the top of the plant and the bottom of the plant?

I’ve done some samples where we’ve seen a 30 percent variance. It kind of depends on how the producer grew the plant -- if they grow it tall or if they pull it back, the difference of the nutrient intake from the top to the bottom of the plant. You also have light to take in as a factor. Some of the people can minimize those variances from top to bottom, but it’s a lot more labor-intensive, so they have to decide whether or not that is financially feasible for them. Some people may be growing a crop to just blow into a concentrate or to infuse it into an edible, so they may not be worried.  

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5.  As the largest testing facility in Washington, are you working on developing any standards and regulations for testing in the I-502 recreational market?  
     
We have been working with the Liquor Control Board on some of the standards they have been setting for the recreational market. I do think that a lot of the standards as far as testing are concerned are going to be similar in the medical market in the future. Obviously, there is going to have to be changes because the recreational market hasn’t been structured to support the medical market. A lot of restrictions on concentrates would limit the medicines available to patients with epilepsy and other illnesses. I think that’s a big thing with the medical vs. the recreational. There is this big push to have to be on your death bed; you have to be critically ill. A lot of people in this community would argue that using marijuana for depression is better than taking a pharmaceutical. We see more deaths off of regulated pharmaceuticals than we see off of unregulated marijuana, I think that’s important to note.     

6. Do you see marijuana being accepted more as a medicine?  

I do think that there is a place for marijuana in pharmaceutical research, but it’s also a homeopathic medicine, meaning it doesn’t have to come in a pill to make it safe. There is kind of this push to make it medical, but to push it to biotech and pharmaceuticals. I think it definitely has its place if we can deliver consistent medicines, but there are challenges with that too because it is a whole-plant extract. We saw Marinol come out as a pharmaceutical and it wasn’t effective for many people. Pharmaceutical companies try to focus in on one or two compounds as the active ingredients and what we have here is more of a homeopathic medicine, which is more effective as a whole-plant extract treatment.  

7. Patients have begun to document the effects that certain strains have on their disorders. Can you locate certain cannabinoid and terpene profiles to help direct people to their desired effects? 

That’s a challenge in itself, too, because just like in pharmaceuticals, it may work for some patients but it doesn’t work for others. With epilepsy, for example, I know a lot of patients who CBD doesn’t work for. Some have even tried the all-hemp extract, which is 100 percent CBD, and that doesn’t work either.  Others may need CBD for their seizures and some need THC for their seizures. We’re all wired differently and some of it, I think, is an attack on THC as everyone starts to jump on the CBD bandwagon. It’s easier for people to jump on board with that because it is non-psychoactive, but we know that there are many documented cases of patients -- even children -- benefiting from THC medicines.   

8. Is Analytical thinking about doing any genetic sequencing in the future?  

Yes. We have a lot of interest in DNA sequencing and cell tissue culture, anything that the market demands, we would like to get into once we have the capital. A big thing that most people don’t understand about lab testing is that there isn’t just one piece of equipment I can take a sample over to that can tell me everything.  You have to know what you are looking for and it might take a multitude of tests to find all those different things. It’s really expensive and the medical market couldn’t bear a lot of those expenses before because the margins aren’t as high as people think they are. We definitely want to do sequencing and tissue culture in the future. We’re kind of spread thin right now but growing quickly. 


Analytical360 provides testing services for all medibles, concentrates, products and strains reviewed in Northwest Leaf. Learn more at www.Analytical360.com

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