Last week, we had the honor of visiting Summit Analytical in Gilford, NH. Summit Analytical is an analytical testing laboratory run by one of our own NH Cannabis Association Networking Group members, Terry Clayton. Terry was kind enough to host our monthly networking event and provide attendees with a tour of his lab facility. He also walked us through some of the awesome work he is currently engaged with in relation to hemp and cannabis testing. As if all that was not enough, he even went the extra mile to answers some questions specifically for the NH Cannabis Association community!
NH Cann: When did you decide you wanted to be a chemist?
Terry Clayton: Ever since I can remember I have had a curiosity to know what “stuff” is made of. The elements, chemicals, recipes. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to understand the composition and active ingredients in pharmaceuticals, foods…even household chemicals like skin lotion…or high performance micronized carnauba car wax composition!
NH Cann: How long has Summit Analytical been in business?
TC: Although I have been in product development for 25 years, I established Summit Analytical in 2020 with the emphasis on analytical testing and formulation related to medicinal chemistry.
NH Cann: What first sparked your interest in cannabis?
TC: I used recreational cannabis in college and have always supported legalization. You can use it to relax and have fun without side effects. I have always supported the use of cannabis, provided it is used safely. In the last 10 years we have learned so much regarding the health benefits of cannabis. It’s amazing what cannabinoids can do for people suffering illnesses such as anxiety, pain, and epilepsy, just to name a few. I am a huge fan of fellow organic chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his pioneering research on cannabis and endogenous cannabinoids.
NH Cann: What accreditation is needed for cannabis and hemp testing labs such as Summit Analytical?
TC: I am working with some talented companies who are helping Summit Analytical complete ISO certification. From day one, I have implemented a discipline of traceability, process, instrument calibration, and documentation. I have also filed my lab with the Drug Enforcement Agency. I am a member of the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) cannabis committee, where I am helping develop test methods and have access to the most up to date methodologies for cannabis testing.
NH Cann: What are some projects you have been working on at Summit Analytical?
TC: My focus recently has been quantifying cannabidiol and THC in cannabis/hemp. Additionally, I have looked at cannabinoid profiling in hemp oil, oral medications, gummies, and other types of edibles. I am also working on testing for heavy metals in hemp plants grown in New England to ensure they are safe. I am also starting to help companies formulate novel medicinal products. I quite enjoy it.
NH Cann: What kinds of things can labs test for and why is it important to test cannabis and hemp products?
TC: Since many cannabis and hemp plants and products will be taken orally or applied topically, it is important to have them tested to make sure dosage is correct and that the plants and products are safe. Some examples of things that need to be tested for include: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) concentration for proper dosing. This is called potency testing. As there are spectrum effects due to a variety of cannabinoids in cannabis, cannabinoid profiling is valuable. If concentrates are extracted from plants it is important to confirm that all extraction solvents are removed. This is called residual solvent testing. Plants and products need to be tested to confirm heavy metals are not present, just as in other agricultural fruits and vegetables. Additionally, tests for pesticides and microbials should be done. All of these tests will help ensure that products are safe and provide the general public valuable information to help them use cannabis and hemp safely.
NH Cann: What are you specifically testing for when someone sends or brings in a cannabis or hemp sample?
TC: The key tests I perform include potency, cannabinoid profiling, heavy metal analysis, and moisture analysis. This priority was determined by talking to companies and producers in New England, as well as experts in areas of the country where the cannabis industry is more mature, like Colorado and California. I will expand into more tests as the industry grows here and learn where I can provide additional value.
NH Cann: What does the testing process look like currently?
TC: The typical process is for a client to bring me about 0.5 grams of what they want tested. I have very specific ways to prepare a sample for analysis, which include breaking down the sample into a form that I can analyze. For example, I use extremely strong acids and oxidizing agents to digest plants or products so I can test for heavy metals. The instrument I use to test for heavy metals is called an ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer). The instrument I use for measuring cannabinoids is an HPLC-DAD (high performance liquid chromatography with diode array detector).
NH Cann: What should consumers look for to determine whether a product has been tested well and that the results are good?
TC: Consumers should ask to see lab-testing certificates to confirm potency and safety of products they apply or consume. ISO accreditation will confirm that the laboratory follows rigid procedures with traceability of tests. Additionally, a lab is only as good as its staff. I have a PhD in organic chemistry and 25 years of building and operating labs. Look into who is running the lab and what their background is. Reputable labs will be run by professional chemists.
NH Cann: What are some other things consumers should know to ask about or look for when purchasing lab tested cannabis and hemp?
TC: Laboratory testing is very sophisticated and utilizes technology and methods developed in the pharmaceutical industry. There is always the risk of fraud however, so I feel it is important to do your research, talk to people and look for reputable companies who are in it for the long haul and are not just looking short term. Talk to people….
NH Cann: What are your long-term goals for Summit Analytical?
TC: My plans for Summit Analytical are pretty simple. I will provide the best analytical testing service in New England. Trust is very important to me. Clients can pick up the phone and talk to me or visit the lab…anytime. My pricing will be competitive and I will provide great service. I do plan to grow and expand my services, but I am not in a hurry. I will make strategic investments after careful consideration of what clients need and in a way that will not jeopardize the key tenets above.
To learn more about Summit Analytical and Terry’s awesome work, please visit his website: https://www.summit-analytical.com/