The global market for legal cannabis is estimated to be worth around €13bn-14.6bn ($15bn-17bn), according to market research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, with some estimates forecasting the category to soar as high as €86bn ($100bn) by 2025. And as demand for legal cannabis continued to grow, so too would demand for testing as high-quality became paramount when used in various applications, such as personal care, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, food, beverages and pharmaceuticals, it said.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the cannabis testing market would grow at a CAGR of 13.2% between 2017 and 2025.
Cannabis testing ‘very important’ for all sectors
Ma’ayan Laufer MHA, healthcare consultant at Frost & Sullivan, said cannabis testing was “very important in any aspect and for any use”, particularly given the growth of the category and widespread use in industrial applications.
“Whether for consumers of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, or as an ingredient for various industrial appliances, the product must meet high quality standards otherwise consumer confidence is eroded and the huge potential of cannabis will remain unfilled,” Laufer told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
And for the beauty and personal care space – an area that stood to “benefit greatly from cannabis-based products” with “dozens of types of products” across hair care and skin care containing cannabis extracts and oils already on the market – he said testing for high-quality cannabis was especially important.
“As scientific and agricultural research progresses, growers develop expertise in cultivating more and improved strains and additional products and applications are produced to our benefit. However, it is crucial that beauty and personal care products maintain high-quality components for the obvious reasons of safety, quality and effectiveness.”
High-quality cannabis – the big testing challenge
However, according to Frost & Sullivan, current solutions for cannabis testing were “fraught with issues and challenges”.
Test prices, it said, remained “very high” – between €430-€860 ($500-$1,000) per batch – and typically took between one or two weeks; there was “no unified standard” for cannabis testing, with poor and unreliable testing widespread; and there remained a lack of testing labs. In addition to this, Frost & Sullivan said current on-site testing by law enforcement to check THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels were “not sensitive enough”.
“Traditionally, cannabis growers and producers needed to compromise between cost and quality: lab tests using gas or liquid chromatography – the industry’s standard – provides accurate results, but at a high price and long waiting time, while field kits for on-site testing are relatively affordable yet do not provide results that are accurate enough to meet the stakeholder’s requirements and needs,” it said.
And results from Frost & Sullivan’s stakeholder perception survey showed that an on-site solution for accurate, reliable testing of THC and CBD (cannabidiol) potency was “widely and ardently welcomed”.
A technological push – accuracy, reliability, time and affordability
Whilst there were some options already on the market, Frost & Sullivan said the key determinants of success would be “accuracy and reliability, time to results and affordability”.
“With projections for accelerated growth, the cannabis market is primed for technological solutions that can provide certainty of quality along the value chain, aid in securing consumer confidence and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities,” the market research firm said.