lab testing, test tubes, cannabis

The Importance of Testing Cannabis

Friend: Wanna try this?
Cannabis newbie: What is it?
Friend: A joint. Marijuana.
Cannabis newbie: Yeah, sure, but what is marijuana?
Friend: It’s a plant. How bad can it be?

The real answer is, “potentially very very bad.” That’s where the importance of testing cannabis comes in.

Most newbies know very little about the production of cannabis or its effects. Even seasoned cannabis consumers tend to have little insight into the products they use. If you asked about the potency of cannabis, chances are you’d hear “smell this… it’s really good.” if you inquired about its production, the response was, “Joe says the guy knows what he’s doing.”

Think about your daily life. Do you buy groceries without reading the label? Do you buy toys without checking for appropriate ages? Heck, you even know the octane of the gas you put in your car. Don’t accept a lesser standard for cannabis, especially as it is something you’re putting into your body! Let’s look at types of tests and why they are important.

POTENCY AND CANNABINOIDS

Problem: you need to know the strength and composition of cannabis in cannabis products.

Solution: Testing at a third party ISO accredited analytical laboratory provides the consumer with the amount of cannabinoids contained in each product.

Tell me more: You probably know that THC is the cannabinoids that provides psychoactive effects in humans. However, it is believed that there are 85 to 120 cannabinoids in cannabis. Genifer Murray, founder of one of the first cannabis testing labs in the country and the owner of Carbon Blue Consulting said, “unless and until you know the composition and makeup of the product key or consuming, you have no way to know what may happen to your body.” 

These days most people who drink alcohol know how their body reacts after having three beers, two shots, or a glass of wine. This allows the user to enjoy a concert or meal without being overly intoxicated. Similarly, if you know a product contains 19% THC, you can predict how your body will react. If you want to combat pain without the high, you need items with a high level of CBD. The only way you can confidently know what you are consuming engage potential effects is with the testing laboratory providing analytical results.

PESTICIDES, SOLVENTS, AND HEAVY METALS

Problem: If ingested by humans in substantial amounts, pesticides, residual solvents, or heavy metals can be quite harmful.

Solution: testing at an accredited analytical laboratory ensures the presence of these materials are below permissible amounts.

Tell me more: For starters how would pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals wind up in your products? Some producers applied pesticides while being grown. THC extraction is a complicated process that involves solvents (butane, ethanol, propane, etc.) to create cannabis oil. Heavy metals (lead arsenic, mercury, etc.) may be absorbed into the plant from the soil in which it is grown. Certain levels of these items can be toxic and have been shown to harm humans. Accordingly, these cannabis products must be tested prior to consumption to ensure toxins in hazardous elements are absent or below the allowable levels.

MICROBIOLOGICAL TESTING

Problem: No one wants to ingest products containing unsafe levels of yeast, mold, E.coli, salmonella, or other microbiological contaminants.

Solution: testing for these potentially hazardous microbes at an analytical laboratory helps ensure the absence of these contaminants in these products.

Tell me more: Foodborne illnesses are quite prevalent and scarier than most realize. Infused brownies, gummies, drinks, or chocolate bars are all food products with cannabis as an ingredient. The food products available in your grocery store are highly regulated and tested. You should not expect less from cannabis products. The extent of symptoms from foodborne illnesses range from headache, fever, or stomach ache and can be as severe as extreme diarrhea, miscarriage, or death. Testing for microbiological contaminants helps ensure that these products don’t contain hazardous microbes.

LABORATORY STANDARDS

Problem: Not all laboratories are created equal.

Solution: Make sure the laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited by a third party, non-profit agency.

Tell me more: all states with regulated markets require some level of testing to ensure that the laboratory and scientists conducting the tests are operating at the highest level. For Food and Drug industries, testing in a lab that is ISO 17025 accredited is the pinnacle. As Seth Wong, founder of TEQ Analytical Laboratories in Colorado says, “ISO 17025 certification ensures that all results are accurate, reliable, and repeatable.”

Would you allow a contractor to build your home without insurance or state registration? Of course not. Similarly, using a lab that adheres to the strictest standards possible provides the grower and consumer with comfort that the product contains what is desired to be sold and purchased. 

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