Three Trends I Saw at Pittcon 2017

Laboratory Equipment
Monday, 03/13/2017
By Michelle Taylor – Editor-in-Chief

Nearly 13,000 people have now returned home and settled in after a riveting week of the latest in laboratory technologies and innovations. Held in Chicago this year, the annual Pittcon Conference & Expo did not disappoint.

As I mentioned last month, the enormity of Pittcon, as well as the respect it has garnered as the industry’s largest event over the past 67 years, allows it to set the stage for the rest of the year. The trends discussed below will reverberate through the analytical lab community into 2018, and perhaps well beyond.

1. Cannabis
It’s almost impossible to relay just how big a deal cannabis was at this year’s Pittcon. It felt like it was all anyone talked about—exhibitors, attendees, manufacturers, lecturers: everyone. Last year—as opposed to this year—the Cannabis Labs Conference was co-located with Pittcon in Atlanta, so one may think 2016 was cannabis’ time to shine. But, I think Pittcon may have jumped the gun in terms of industry “readiness.” The Cannabis Labs Conference did not make an appearance at Pittcon 2017, but the topic sure did.

Shimadzu Scientific released its new Cannabis Analyzer for Potency ahead of its press conference the morning of March 7. This high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) is the first-ever instrument designed specifically to determine cannabinoid content. It is an “integrated HPLC,” meaning the autosampler, solvent delivery system, columns and detector are all built into a single box.

Since cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, there are no established regulations when it comes to labeling and dosage. Bob Clifford, Shimadzu’s GM of Marketing and head of the cannabis product line, referenced studies from The Oregonian and Johns Hopkins University that revealed only about 15% of cannabis products are accurately labeled with the correct potency information.

“The legal cannabis market is $7.2 billion, [and] it’s expected to go up to $24 billion by 2025, of which $13 billion is going to be medical-related, $11 recreational, and [it will] employ 200,000 people. We have a need to develop quality analytical testing instruments so we know labeling is correct, and hopefully we’re dosing the patient or customer with what they are looking for,” said Clifford.