Regulating Heavy Metals in Cannabis and Hemp Consumer Products: What We Can Learn From the Pharmaceutical Industry

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Webinar Date/Time: Thu, Jun 29, 2023 11:00 AM EDT

It’s well accepted that the cannabis industry needs to expand the regulated panel of elemental contaminants beyond the big four (Pb, Cd, As, Hg) heavy metals to ensure safer consumer products. Learn how the pharmaceutical industry went about the process to eventually arrive at 24 elemental impurities, based on toxicity, mode of administration and the likelihood of finding them in the manufacturing process.

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Event Overview:

This presentation will take a closer look at how the pharmaceutical industry changed its 100-year-qualittaive test for a small group of heavy metals, to finally arrive at a list of 24 elemental impurities using plasma spectrochemical techniques. The cannabis industry can learn a great deal from this process to not only understand the many potential sources of heavy metal contamination, but also how the final cannabis consumer products can be contaminated by the manufacturing equipment, storage containers and the delivery systems used. The presentation will focus on:

  • The fractured nature of state-driven heavy metal regulations.
  • The pharmaceutical regulatory process for elemental impurities in drug products.
  • How the pharmaceutical industry implemented a risk-based approach.
  • Sources of heavy metals in cannabis consumer products.
  • Can the pharmaceutical model be applied to the cannabis industry.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • A deep dive into how the pharmaceutical industry went about regulating elemental impurities in drug products.
  • A better understanding of sources of elemental contaminants in cannabis and cannabis consumer products.
  • How to minimize sources of heavy metals to ensure safer consumer products.

Who Should Attend:

  • Cultivators, processors, producers, testing labs, regulators, consumers who want to educate themselves about the dangers of heavy metals in cannabis consumer products.


Robert Thomas
Principal Scientist
Scientific Solutions

Robert Thomas is the principal scientist at Scientific Solutions, a consulting company that serves the educational needs of the trace ele­ment user community. He has worked in the field of atomic and mass spectroscopy for almost 50 years, including 24 years for a manufacturer of atomic spectroscopic instrumentation. He has served on the American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Analytical Reagents (CAR) for the past 20 years as leader of the plasma spectrochemistry, heavy metals task force, where he has worked very closely with the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) to align ACS heavy metal testing procedures with pharmaceutical guidelines. Rob has written overt 100 technical publications, including a 15-part tutorial series entitled, A Beginner’s Guide to ICP-MS. He is also the editor and frequent contributor of the Atomic Perspectives column in Spectroscopy magazine, as well as serving on the editorial advisory board of Analytical Cannabis. In addition, Rob has authored 5 textbooks on the fundamental principles and applications of ICP-MS. His most recent book is Measuring Heavy Metal Contaminants in Cannabis and Hemp published in December 2021. He is currently working on his 6th book entitled, A Practical Guide to ICP-MS and Other AS Techniques, which will be available in the summer of 2023. Rob has an advanced degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Wales, UK, and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and a Chartered Chemist (CChem).

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