The nation is slated to see more and more states decriminalizing cannabis opening up the market for companies producing a plethora of edibles ranging from THC-infused gummy bears to coffee drinks but there has been recent concern amongst medical professionals regarding how much THC is really in these munchies.
A recent study by medical researchers found that an estimated 16% to 26% of medical cannabis users consume edible products but that only 17% of the labels on edibles from three separate locations (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Calif. and Seattle, Washington) are currently accurate in respect to THC content. With most labels only listing THC content and a small few including cannabidiol (CBD) content as well.
"I don't think any one company is deliberately trying to mislabel their products. I think when the samples are sent to testing labs and the testing labs may not have the right methods to be able to analyze these products accurately," said Melissa Wilcox, a representative from Grace Discovery Sciences.
Wilcox and Dr. Jahan Marcu were both present at the 251st American Chemical Society National Meeting last month in San Diego, Calif. discussing reports about a new method of testing edibles or “munchies” that will measure the amounts of cannabis compounds more precisely.
Most marijuana edibles are currently analyzed using a device called a high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) but this device can’t just be injected with THC-infused gummy bears. That’s where Marcu and colleagues step in by first producing a method to take the edibles and create a substance that can be tested accurately in the HPLC. The edible is placed into a cryo-mill with dry ice or liquid nitrogen than ground to a mixture to create a homogeneous sample.
By doing this the HPLC can give a more accurate assessment of how much THC and other compounds are really in your brownie. The only problem is trying to standardize this method and each state will vary due to its regulations.
According to Marcu some of these companies aren't able to get extensive testing due to cannabis being a federal Scheduled I drug and regulations not allowing proper testing in some states so they do a form of "quick checks" that can be financially burdensome.
But how much is your health worth? As a long term medical cannabis user I’ve seen my fair share of edibles and would like to have an accurate measure of what I’m consuming. The recommended dosage on the edibles I’ve seen at dispensaries all vary with almost all of them listing a THC “Milligram” content to the whole product.
The THC content isn’t always the important thing but what actual cannabis product is used in the product. Some companies will use various parts of the cannabis plant but not list it on their packages. Some could be using plant trim extracted in butter while others are using shatter to infuse their edibles. Whether or not the label has the correct packaging these companies should also be transparent about what products are being used.
If you find yourself at a dispensary any time soon check out the edibles and ask yourself what this may actually be. Most reliable spots I’ve been to such as Harborside Health Center in Oakland and San Jose, Calif. have really knowledgeable budtenders and their products have always kept their consistency since day one. If the products are consistent, you’ll likely see them across most dispensaries in the area.
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Hopefully, with more states legalizing cannabis we’ll see regulations that will help the consumer understand the products they're consuming. The possibility of a USDA type organization overseeing cannabis products could be in the near future. Until then we’ll have to do with current testing facilities by state but keep wondering what’s in our munchies?