Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024: Interview with Analytical Track Program Chair Julie Kowalski

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Columns | <b>Cannabis Voices</b>

As the Chair for the Analytical Track and the Director of Technical Programming, Julie Kowalski gives an inside look into the conference.

A trailblazer in the field, Julie Kowalski applied her expertise in chemical contaminants to cannabis testing in the early days of recreational cannabis legalization in the United States. Recently, she launched a consulting business, JA Kowalski Science Support, LLC, where she provides her expertise on cannabis testing. In this interview, she discusses what to expect in the analytical portion of Cannabis Science Conference Spring, taking place May 7–9, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Get a sneak peek into the Analytical Track with the video, read the transcription below, and register here for Cannabis Science Conference Spring 2024!


Read more about analytical cannabis:

What are some new topics in analytical cannabis?

Julie Kowalski: I would say there's a couple of things that testing labs and people in the market are concerned about. One is, obviously, what are the implications of a possible federal rescheduling, what that's going to affect, interstate commerce, and really just what the impact is going to be for everyone.

And then the other big thing that's happening right now is a lot of people trying to figure out exactly what's going on with the “hemp derived intoxicating cannabinoids,” synthetic, semi synthetic—I don't even think we all talk about them the same. So even what they are and what terms we should be using, how that's really affected the markets, and it's really testing the legal system. And then all of the implications for—I'm always thinking about the lab. So as clients want more of these types of products tested, right now we don't even have reference materials for all of these. So, how do you even do testing? It's been an interesting time so far.

What topics are being covered in the analytical track?

Kowalski: I'm always trying to build a very technical program. Right now we have some great microbiology presentations, some about auditing, some more research style projects that are going to be presented, and then my love: the analytical chemistry portion. We have some method development talks, which should be pretty interesting, as well as some research that some folks have been doing to investigate the types of testing and what it really means.

We also have an update about the California standardized method, and a laboratory is going to go over some data that they've collected, as well as tell a little bit about what life has been like since labs have had to use that method. I'm pretty excited about it.

What are you most looking forward to learning at the conference?

Kowalski: If I have the chance to sneak over and listen to some talks in the other tracks—as much as I like to stick with the analytical—if I have a chance to learn a little bit more about cultivation practices and medical and compliance. I'm pretty excited that we have a new compliance track this year. It's such an integral part of what producers, processors, and growers really should be doing or need to do. And then of course, the laboratories as well in terms of compliance and accreditation. That is all a lot of work. I think it's important work and so we have professionals that that do that and they’re going to be able to provide some good insights on that as well.