MAR 29, 2018 10:30 AM PDT

A Voyage Into the Captivating Realm of Cannabis Science and its Regulation

C.E. CREDITS: P.A.C.E. CE | Florida CE
  • Consulting Scientist/Analytical Chemist, RJ Lee Group, Inc.
      Dr. Lupoi graduated summa cum laude from a small school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a B.S. in Chemistry, prior to attending graduate school at Iowa State University. There, Dr. Lupoi began his interest in evaluating plants with different analytical tools, such as spectroscopy, a line of research that continued in two postdoctoral appointments for the University of Queensland/Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab.

      Before coming to RJ Lee Group, Dr. Lupoi led research projects predominantly focused on the creation of multivariate analysis data models. These models were developed using vibrational spectroscopy coupled with reference methods, such as chromatography that enabled the use of high-throughput spectroscopic instrumentation for the rapid screening of a diverse array of plants, including cannabis. At RJ Lee Group, Dr. Lupoi serves as a technical expert for the auditing and approving of WSLCB cannabis testing laboratories in support of I502.

      Dr. Lupoi's other work includes: the creation of a novel infrared imaging method that compared wild-type and modified sugarcane for localizing polyhydroxybutyrate expressed in sugarcane and a technique for immobilizing cellulase to silica nanoparticles for use in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation reactions that led to a two-fold increase in ethanol concentration.

      Dr. Lupoi has authored several peer-reviewed manuscripts, review articles, and a book chapter, has been an associate editor of a Special Topic journal in Frontiers in Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and has been a reviewer for several leading biofuel and analytical chemistry journals.


    The cannabis industry as a whole is under considerable scrutiny.  Finger-pointing and blame regarding inaccurate product labels run rampant.  Media outlets have often faulted the skill of the laboratories, a circumstance that leaves everyone feeling confused, distraught, and outright swindled.  More recently, several entities, such as ASTM International, have embarked on forging paths to standardize cannabis analytical testing.  Some individuals have suggested that we look to relevant, standardized methods from parallel industries such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, or food and beverage.  Regardless of which procedures are nominated and eventually adopted by states having legalized cannabis, this undertaking will take time…it will not happen overnight.  In the meantime, it is the responsibility of each member of the cannabis industry, regardless of business sector, to take on their share of the obligation in making sure that commercial products are safe for consumption, or that ancillary goods, including scientific instrumentation have been deemed scientifically valid by experts in the subject matter. 

    Cannabis is an extremely complex and fascinating medicinal plant.  There are many sources of variance that can contribute to the final numbers placed on a product’s label.  These can include natural variation, horticultural differences, and diversity in the analytical methods used to evaluate plant and product chemistry.  RJ Lee Group is committed to helping labs combat the latter source of variation, such that the data provided to their customers, and ultimately the public, is defendable  RJ Lee Group is the auditing body for the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.  Our pedigree translates well to the cannabis industry, as we have notably been involved with regulatory agencies and standard-setting organizations in the development of standardized analytical methods for use throughout the scientific community.  Some cannabis labs have shown questionable scientific integrity.  Our mission is to provide assistance and expertise to labs seeking to hone their aptitude and enhance the science of this developing industry.  Until every patient can rest assure that the product they use in battling any number of ailments has been cultivated, processed, and analytically appraised with integrity, no one benefits.    

    Learning Objectives:

    • To highlight the different sources of variability that influence numbers placed on cannabis-product labels
    • To illustrate case-studies witnessed during the audits of labs, and showcase how RJ Lee Group has assisted labs in addressing compliance issues


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