Introducing CannLearn – free, app-based cannabis testing training for laboratory staff
The rapid expansion of the global cannabis industry has led to sharply increased demand for safety and purity testing, but analytical laboratories are reporting a severe shortage of experienced cannabis testing staff. That’s why Dr Ehrenstorfer and the UK National Measurement Laboratory (hosted at LGC) have teamed up to help by developing CannLearn - free, app-based microlearning that gives scientists the cannabis expertise they need.
With cannabis and hemp products fast becoming accepted around the world, demand for reliable testing services has never been greater. But are cannabis testing laboratories able to manage this increasing workload?
Canada and 19 US states have already decriminalised recreational cannabis use, with Mississippi becoming the 39th state government to legalise medical cannabis in February. And though American legislators have so far been reluctant to open the door to CBD-based foods and beverages, market observers predict that products made with minor cannabinoids such as cannabinol, cannabigerol and cannabidiolic acid may be ready to “hit the mainstream market in the US.”
In Europe, Germany is planning to become the largest nation in the world to legalise the drug - and the fifth European country either to legalise or tolerate it. The German government has also made an explicit commitment to introduce cannabis safety testing as part of its plans. Meanwhile, so-called ‘novel foods’ containing CBD are now authorised throughout the EU and UK – provided they pass European Food Safety Authority toxicology and mutagenicity assessments.
Producers are, therefore, accepting more regulation and scrutiny of their products, which has led to “explosive growth” in laboratories specialising in cannabis safety and quality testing, particularly - but not exclusively - in the US.
Many labs are suffering growing pains, including high start-up and equipment costs. But perhaps the most common difficulty they report is finding enough staff who are familiar with testing cannabis.
“The (cannabis testing) market is very niche and is currently facing a dearth of trained laboratory professionals,” one report for potential investors notes. “People are not well equipped and lack the necessary expertise with cannabis examination.”
CannLearn – offering testing laboratories a helping hand
As a company that prides itself on being responsive to its customer’s needs, it was natural for Dr Ehrenstorfer to reach out to laboratories struggling with a lack of experienced staff.
“We saw this as an opportunity to help,” says Dr Kelly Cheshire, the global product manager for cannabis at Dr Ehrenstorfer.
“After speaking with our customers and a number of experts within the industry, we were aware that one of their ‘pain points’ was around experience in the cannabis field.
“The question was: ‘How can untrained staff continue their learning in an environment that doesn’t always afford the time to pursue this?’
“In many cases, we hear of people moving over from different industries, or coming fresh out of college, or university. When you couple that with a rapidly evolving market, it can be incredibly challenging to keep up with learning and developing skills to the right level.”
Dr Ehrenstorfer wanted to share its own extensive expertise in cannabis testing with its customers, and also had the perfect training partner - the UK National Measurement Laboratory (NML), hosted at LGC.
The NML is the UK’s Designated Institute for Chemical and Bio-Measurement – but also boasts more than 25 years’ experience in developing and delivering training on key analytical quality topics, such as method validation and measurement uncertainty.
In part due to the pandemic, but also to accommodate the new generation of ‘digital natives’ working in laboratories, NML was looking for novel means of delivering training that would also minimise the time that scientists spend away from day-to-day work.
“Feedback from customers indicated that recruiting staff with the required cannabis knowledge and skills can be a challenge, and that introductory level training would be welcomed,” adds Vicki Barwick, the NML’s head of commercial training.
With Dr Ehrenstorfer also looking for a solution to its customers’ cannabis training needs, the synergies were obvious – and would eventually come to fruition with CannLearn.
“A great tool for people new to the industry”
CannLearn provides new, interactive and engaging training content that gives scientists the analytical measurement knowledge and skills they need in today’s fast-changing cannabis testing environment.
Fun, responsive and intuitive, CannLearn helps users self-navigate through five structured modules:
· Background to cannabis testing
· Things to consider before carrying out an analysis
· Health and safety
· Laboratory set-up
· Essential quality assurance topics
Together, they cover the key issues you need to consider in order to produce reliable, fit-for-purpose results.
Analytical chemists and technical services managers who’ve tried CannLearn describe it as “A great tool for people new to the industry,” that provides a helpful overview of cannabis testing.
Its app-based courses both provide consistent expert training and pinpoint development needs – so that individuals gain the skills and competencies they need while spending less time away from the bench.
Available anywhere, anytime you’re online, CannLearn delivers your independent learning via a range of devices, for maximum convenience – so you can learn on the move and at your own pace.
To find out more, and register, go to CannLearn_app | LGC Standards
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