Why Cannabis Needs Standardized Lab Testing Now More Than Ever


As cannabis laws  and legal weed grows more accessible across the U.S., the requirement of lab test results on product labeling (specifying potency, cannabinoid content, and any existence of lingering contaminants) has become typical. But for weed to ever become a widely accepted wellness product––or better yet, to get government rescheduling––the practice should be required.

As indicated by a University of Southern California study published last year in the Journal of Toxicological Studies, USC examiners analyzed 57 cannabis concentrate samples and and discovered more than 80 percent of the samples to contain leftover pesticides and solvents. That is a huge issue. IMO, if you’re purchasing weed from an authorized retailer, any such business pushing product that hasn’t been tested tried ought to be fined or face harsh penalties.

“The lack of quality standards from state to state is equally appalling,” says Cathie Bennett Warner, public relations director of cannabis testing firm Steep Hills Labs. “No state has gotten it completely right yet.”

Recently in Ohio (which is one of the states with the highest number of deaths from narcotic overdoses), Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco told reporters they’re now finding the synthetic opioid fentanyl in weed.

For context, fentanyl and carfentanil are the synthetic drugs currently fueling the country’s opioid epidemic. They’re 50-100 times stronger than heroin and otherwise used as tranquilizers for large mammals, such as elephants. Hamilton County alone has seen 373 deaths from suspected opioid overdoses involving the drugs so far this year.

Image via Steep Hill

“We have seen fentanyl mixed with cocaine, we have also seen fentanyl mixed with marijuana,” Sammarco said at a joint press conference with state Sen. Rob Portman.

Fentanyl-laced cannabis seems a bit unlikely and perhaps not even possible.

“Documenting the pipe chemistry of fentanyl in leaf material would be a research paper,” a consultant that works with the Drug Enforcement Administration to test synthetic opioids told VICE. “And I don’t think it’s been done yet.”

However, until the state makes sense of the structure for its medical marijuana program, if you’re purchasing weed, you’re more than likely getting it from a street pharmacist. And while the synthetic opioid is absolutely being cut into a vast part of the state’s heroin supply, appears to be unreasonable to blend with cannabis. And despite the low likelihood of the practice going down, any possibility of cannabis being cut with fentanyl, or anything else for that matter,just reinforces the case for legitimizing and managing weed with mandatory product testing being incorporated in said regulations.

“If a product is considered to be more potent; has a higher THC concentration, then retailers can charge more for the sold-as ‘premium high.’”

Still, even though a large number of legal states require all cannabis products to be tested and labeled accordingly before reaching consumers, the accuracy of these labels can vary based on the ethics of business owners.

In 2015, for The Denver Post, former Cannabist editor-in-chief Ricardo Baca produced an investigative report on the accuracy of labeling in regard to different edibles available in the Colorado market. According to the Post, one edible product “was found to be nearly 30 percent lower in potency than advertised. Another was nearly 20 percent lower.”

Image via Get Budding

Basically, if a product is more potent; has a higher THC concentration, then retailers can charge more for the sold as ‘premium high.’ And lab test results can be altered to meet regulations, or at the request of cannabis brands who, all things considered, are customers themselves, of any independent testing facilities.

“Many of the labs will sometimes say they can get better results,” Dylan Hirsch, executive vice president of Diagnostic Lab Corporation in New Jersey, said to Forbes. “It can be so subjective for results on THC.”

“Competition is stiff, but that should not lead businesses to engage in shady practices, and slang poser-ass pot, at the expense of progress. “

Leafly investigation into the accuracy of results coming from Peak Analytics, Washington’s largest cannabis testing facility, originated from a complaint issued by the state. Washington authorities blamed the lab of “reporting artificially high THC levels—and rejecting an abnormally low proportion of cannabis samples for microbial contamination,” in its outcomes, which appears to validate a bigger issue.

Untrustworthy labs and unethical organizations slanging falsely labeled products spells bad news bears for everyone. And the practice has unfriendly outcomes at virtually every level of the weed world. Consumer trust is lost. Regulations will only become more strict, should they continue. And it truly handicaps the modern marijuana movement. Without a doubt, competition is stiff, however that should not lead businesses to take part in shady practices, and slang pretender ass pot, at the expense of progress.