The compact mass spectrometer shows precisely what’s in marijuana.
By Dan Adams Globe Staff July 16, 2017
The compact, high-tech chemical sensors made by the Boston startup 908 Devices are used by emergency responders to scan for toxins after industrial accidents, and by researchers in the pharmaceutical and energy industries to profile the composition of drugs and petroleum products.
Now, the firm has unveiled a new sensor intended to give it a foothold in a less conventional but fast-growing industry: commercial marijuana.
The sensor, dubbed the G908, is a countertop “push-button” mass spectrometer designed to identify cannabis compounds. Its designers say the device approaches the accuracy of traditional “gold standard” lab equipment but is far smaller, faster, cheaper, and easier to use.
The company hopes to sell hundreds of the machines to marijuana labs, cultivators, and processors. Executives at 908 Devices, which has raised nearly $50 million in funding since its founding in 2014, believe the US market for marijuana testing equipment could soon reach a half-billion dollars.
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“We see cannabis as a growing part of the life-sciences market,” chief executive Kevin Knopp said. “If this is a legal product being brought to market, we need to be able to tell whether the potency and levels of solvents are within the requirements.”
In states where the drug is legal, regulators typically require commercially grown marijuana to be tested in professional labs for potency and contaminants such as pesticides and mold before it can be sold. 908 Devices is marketing its sensor to such labs, noting that its speed means technicians can test more samples each day.
“It cuts 80 percent off of