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In new era, cannabis testing a mixed bag

From CAP Today:

The legal use of marijuana has evolved over the last several years.  Ten years ago, California passed the nation’s first law that permitted patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.  Today, 25 states have legalized medical marijuana.  In addition, 4 states as well as Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use.

Currently, marijuana is the most popular recreational drug in the United States.  Dr. Marilyn Huestis, Ph.D., serves as a Senior Scientific Advisor to NMS Labs and is working to research the long-term impact of the wider access to marijuana.  Essentially, the legal climate surrounding marijuana is changing the methods and usage patterns of marijuana (cannabis) testing in the laboratory.  As a market leader, NMS continues to expand its offerings to meet the demand for cannabis testing. 

Because cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, it is a very complex drug to test.  In addition, the emerging regulations for judging impairment are currently evolving.  According to Dr. Huestis, impairment should be measured and linked to the actual time of cannabis usage.  For instance, occasional smokers may ingest very low doses of the marijuana psychoactive ingredient THC, which can have little effect.  However, a chronic smoker can potentially have traces of THC in their system 30 days after they’ve used cannabis.  Therefore, identifying a marker that measures the recent cannabis usage is more effective at measuring impairment as opposed to overall usage.  In her research, Dr. Huestis has sited cannabigerol and cannabinol has the markers to measure whether someone has recently used marijuana.  NMS Labs is currently developing a method including these 2 cannabinoids.

Dr. Huestis also states that there are serval advantages to use oral fluid testing to test for recent cannabis usage.  When someone smokes or eats editable cannabis it gets into the oral mucosa and saliva, which indicates that the person actually took the drug as oppose to be exposed to it.  Oral fluid testing offers a reduction in specimen collection errors, and it’s easier to reduce the adulteration that is high in urine testing because it’s an observed sample.  In addition, oral fluid testing is easier to navigate in an emergency situation because you don’t have to catheterize them after suffering from trauma.  

Training for oral fluid testing is also significant to the process.  While it is much easier to train someone to take oral specimens as opposed to blood, they still have to know what they’re doing.  Dr. Huestis predicts that oral fluid will become very prominent and will be a major focus for laboratories when conducting cannabis testing.  It is predicted that hospitals and clinical laboratories will enter the oral fluid market in the near future.  Oral fluid testing is also predicted to become a prominent in postmortem autopsy cases. 

In terms of laboratory offerings, Dr. Huestis advocates testing for markers of recent cannabis use to help interpret results as opposed to simply testing for blood cannabinoids and THC.  As the market for medical marijuana grows, she also predicts that labs will start doing therapeutic drug monitoring to test the concentrations of THC to interpret marijuana’s therapeutic range. 

NMS Labs continues to be at the forefront of the cannabis testing. 

For more information cannabis testing as well as any additional NMS Labs products and services, please call 1-866-522-2216 to chat directly with our experts.

Posted: 2/23/2017 10:40:00 AM

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Local, national labs offer PFC blood tests

From the Bucks County Courier Times:

Undergoing a routine medical test and then waiting by the phone for the results can be a nerve-wracking experience. Now, imagine asking your doctors to test your blood for mysterious chemicals they’ve never heard of, finding a lab to draw the blood, another lab to test it and waiting more than a month to get the results -- and still not knowing quite what to make of them.


That’s been the reality for several residents of Bucks and Montgomery counties (in Pennsylvania) who have had their blood tested for the unregulated chemicals PFOA and PFOS.


The chemicals, linked by many studies to health effects ranging from cancer to low birth weight, have been found in the drinking water of at least 70,000 area residents. Tests of public water supplies have detected the chemicals in amounts that greatly exceed recommended safety limits and rank among the highest found anywhere in the country.


While there have been some conversations among government agencies about offering wide-scale blood testing programs for exposed residents, there has been no official action to date.


There are only a handful of laboratories in North America that can test blood for PFOA and PFOS. One of those is NMS Labs in Upper Moreland's Willow Grove section, which offers a test for PFOA, but is developing a full panel that will include PFOS and other related perfluorinated compounds.

"It is a very challenging test," said Robert Middleberg, vice president of quality assurance for NMS. "These are complex compounds that are chemically — for us as chemists or toxicologists — very challenging to analyze for. "

PFOS is typically found in much higher levels than PFOA locally, prompting NMS to recommend residents wait for the full panel, which Middleberg said could be ready sometime in the next six months to a year.

"They can go to their doctor and get the PFOA done and we'd be happy to do it here," Middleberg said. "(But) if it comes back 'none detected' and they were not looking for these other (related chemicals) ... they may have a false sense of security that, 'Oh, I'm clean, I don't have any PFOA in me.' But they may be loaded with PFOS."

If residents don't want to wait until the full panel is ready, Middleberg said NMS recommends residents get the "low-level" serum or plasma test for PFOA, which costs $298. That test can detect PFOA down to 2 ppb, lower than the lab's other PFOA test, which is designed for workers who are exposed to the chemical on the job and only detects down to 10 ppb.

There is one caveat: the human body naturally eliminates perfluorinated compounds at a rate of about 50 percent every two to nine years, depending on the chemical and the individual. That means the longer people wait for testing, the less they are to likely to receive a result that accurately shows how much of the chemicals had accumulated in their blood.

Posted: 2/3/2017 8:29:00 AM

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