Legalisation of marijuana in some US states is fuelling demand for analytical specialists

The US’s rapidly growing cannabis industry – medical and recreational – desperately needs chemists. That was the conclusion of a session at the American Chemical Society’s spring conference in Denver, Colorado, on 23 March. ‘We need chemists to tell us what we have,’ said Chloe Villano, founder of the Colorado-based cannabis business consulting company Clover Leaf.

She said a better understanding of the science behind cannabis is essential to providing safer and better products, which include oils, extracts and edibles. Chemists can help by, among other things, analysing samples to examine microbiologicals and providing residual solvent testing to ensure cannabis concentrates are free of impurities, Villano suggested.

The industry is witnessing explosive growth in the US, as more states move to legalise not only medical marijuana but recreational marijuana use as well. It’s been over a year into Colorado’s experiment legalising recreational marijuana and sales in the first year hit approximately $700 million (£470 million) – about $386 million for medical use and $313 million for recreational use, according to Villano. Overall, the state collected roughly $76 million in new taxes, with about $44 million of that revenue coming from recreational marijuana alone, she added.