Ensuring the Health of the World Population

Chris Martinez

Dr. Bob CliffordDr. Bob Clifford, General Manager at Shimadzu, gives us a preview of his session at CanEx Jamaica 2018, “Avoiding Mass Confusion for Cannabis Testing.”
Describe your journey into the cannabis industry.
I’d worked at Campbell Soup Company and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and over the years, published and presented over 125 papers in the fields of food, pharmaceutical, environmental, energy, geology, material science, photonics, and cannabis. My journey into the cannabis industry began about four years ago when I had the opportunity to visit a natural sunlight medical cannabis farm, called GI Grow in Portland, Oregon. I meet the owner, Ken Kovash, who was developing individual strains of cannabis for each patient with various medical conditions. The turning point moment came when I saw letters and pictures from parents of children with medical conditions. In those letters were statements such as, “My child is finally a normal child.” If that doesn’t make you cry on the spot, you have no heart. Since then, I have met many people from around the world where cannabis has been a life saver.
From your perspective, where do you see the industry going?
The cannabis industry continues to spread rapidly in terms of government policy and university support. More than half the United States (31 of 50 states) have some form of medical cannabis. Every election adds more states to the approved list. Canada was the first G7 country in the world to approve recreational cannabis as many patients are self-medicating, and Israel has federal funding for cannabis research. Universities are moving to the direction of research as the benefits of this natural plant continue to flourish, while others such as North Michigan University, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Irvine are now teaching students how to get in the cannabis industry.
How is the cannabis industry similar to other industries you’d worked in previously?
Since cannabis is being consumed, we have an obligation to ensure what people are putting in their bodies is healthy or at least not toxic, especially for immunocompromised patients. Having worked at the Campbell Soup Company and the FDA, I take this moral obligation very seriously with respect to cannabis consumption. Contract laboratories already in the food industry tend to follow lab applications like those from independent organizations such as AOAC, while pharmaceutical labs follow guidelines from organizations, such as USP and labs with environmental roots, which tend to follow methods set up by EPA protocols.
In what ways can this knowledge be applied in the cannabis industry?
Whether food, drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals or cannabis, they all require testing for the elemental and molecular compounds we want in our bodies and contaminates we don’t want in our bodies. These require analytical testing instruments such as high-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC), gas chromatography (GC), liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS), and inductively couple plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) for analysis of cannabis flower, concentrates, edibles and topicals.
What do you hope to achieve at CanEx Jamaica this year?
My goal is to be an educator for an industry starving for knowledge on how to test for cannabis to ensure the health of the world population.
Chris Martinez
To learn more about cannabis testing, view Shimadzu’s educational videos at www.GrowYourLab.com.