The Quantitative Determination of Phytocannabinoids in Hemp Oils Using HPLC with UV Detection: Page 4 of 4

June 20, 2018
Abstract / Synopsis: 

Medical marijuana generally possesses high levels of the psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and lower levels of the nonpsychotropic can nabidiol (CBD). Pain mitigation and reduced severity of nausea and seizures are just a few of the therapeutic benefits reported by medical cannabis patients. The main source of CBD-rich oil is carbon dioxide or butane extraction of industrial hemp. Hemp is a robust crop containing high quantities of CBD and minor quantities of other cannabinoids. Like cannabis, hemp oil may be analyzed easily and effectively for its cannabinoid content. Presented herein is a procedure for the quantitative determination of 11 important cannabinoids, including CBD, in hemp oil using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with ultraviolet (UV) detection.

Hemp oil 3 (green) revealed the highest content of CBD and total cannabinoids, yet exhibited the lowest ratio of CBD to total cannabinoids (59%). This observation is consistent with the assumption that its crude appearance reflected the least amount of post-extraction purification. Although its CBD percent of label claim tested the lowest (81%), this sample did contain the highest level of CBD compared to all other oils tested.

Hemp oils 4 (red) and 5 (yellow) tested higher than label claim at 122% and 200%, respectively. The observation is consistent with FDA findings for CBD products, perhaps calling into question the type and accuracy of testing used to justify label claims.

In summary, all samples contained less Δ9-THC than the amount allowed by law (0.3%). Also, all samples showed an array of other cannabinoids, but the minor component, THC-V, was not detected in any of the hemp oil samples. From a quality control point of view, two samples were within a reasonable range of the label claim at ±10%. One sample was well below label claim and two other samples were well above the label claims, one by as much as 200%. When purchasing CBD oils, one should consider

  • label claim,
  • actual concentration,
  • the quality control from batch to batch,
  • other cannabinoids of importance,
  • whole plant complexity, and
  • the selling price.
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Craig Young, MS, is the HPLC product manager for Shimadzu Scientific Instruments in Columbia, Maryland. Bob Clifford, PhD, is the general manager for Shimadzu Scientific Instruments. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]

How to Cite This Article

C. Young and B. Clifford, Cannabis Science and Technology 1(2), 38-43 (2018).