Screening for more than 1,000 pesticides and environmental contaminants in cannabis by GC/Q-TOF

Sure, there are laboratory methods for looking for a small number of specific contaminates in cannabis substrates (target screening), but what about more than a thousand at one time (suspect screening)? In this 2020 paper published in Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, Wylie et al. demonstrate a method to screen cannabis extracts for more than 1,000 pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other pollutants using gas chromatography paired with a high-resolution accurate mass quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (GC/Q-TOF), in conjunction with several databases. They note that while some governmental bodies are mandating a specific subset of contaminates to be tested for in cannabis products, some cultivators may still use unapproved pesticides and such that aren’t officially tested for, putting medical cannabis and recreational users alike at risk. As proof-of-concept, the authors describe their suspect screening materials, methods, and results of using ever-improving mass spectrometry methods to find hundreds of pollutants at one time. Rather than make specific statements about this method, the authors instead let the results of testing confiscated cannabis samples largely speak to the viability of the method.

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