This article from Issue 11 of the Analytix Reporter, produced by Merck, provides a method for the high-throughput analysis of cannabinoids in cannabis products and demonstrates how the heart of a successful HPLC potency testing method is the column used.


With increasing cannabis and hemp legislation, there has been further demand for development and validation of accurate and precise testing methods for potency quantitation. Cannabinoids present a number of challenges, and there is also the additional burden of dealing with a variety of matrix types. HPLC/UV is the technique most commonly used, and the HPLC parameters must be optimized to maintain good separation and stable retention over many injections and with the various sample types.

Scientists at Supra Research and Development (“SupraRnD”) located in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada ( have developed a high throughput and reliable method for cannabinoids that is applicable to a variety of matrices.

Experimental Conditions
The HPLC column used for the analysis was an Ascentis® Express C18 column, 15 cm x 2.1 mm I.D., 2 µm. Ascentis® Express columns contain Fused-Core® particles with a solid core and porous shell architecture, also referred to as superficially porous. This particle structure provides higher separation efficiency than fully porous particles of the same size, and allows for faster analysis times with lower backpressure than approaches using smaller (<2 µm) fully porous particles.

For full experimental conditions, please download the article.

After evaluating several HPLC columns, SupraRnD has successfully developed a robust and rugged method using the Ascentis® Express C18 column for the analysis of 17 cannabinoids in a variety of matrices. Thus far, the method has been successfully applied to five different sample types including flower, ointments, chocolate, concentrates and gummies. The Ascentis® Express C18 column was chosen for the final method based on retention time stability over repeated use, and ability to maintain chromatographic performance for the cannabinoids. In addition, the column currently in use has shown minimal increase in backpressure over the course of >1,550 injections.

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*The life science business of Merck operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada.

Published  Feb 2, 2022

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