Like any other food, cosmetic product, or supplement, you should expect cannabis products to be thoroughly tested and approved before distribution. Proactive lab testing is one of the best ways to ensure that your consumers experience precisely the effects they’re looking for, without harm to their health and wellbeing.
Still, some growers and suppliers take the crop’s quality at face value, believing that their products are exempt from the possibilities of contamination, environmental harm, etc. If you’re unsure whether testing is worthwhile, here are a few of the main reasons you should request an analysis of your product.
Why Should Commercial Cannabis Be Tested?
Cannabis testing is an extensive, in-depth process that reveals the full chemical profile of a given product. Further, there are several different types of testing practices, each focused on a unique facet of that profile. Yet, all these methods ultimately aim to yield a full understanding of the cannabis-derived product and ensure its safety.
Some of the primary reasons why it’s best to have your cannabis professionally tested are discussed below.
Knowing the Strain’s Potency
Between 1995-2014, scientists monitored the rise of cannabis potency. They discovered a gradual ascent from 4% to 12% between 1995-2014, illustrating the industry’s focus on THC and other cannabinoid concentrations. Some strains even reach over 25% nowadays.
Since so many consumers purchase cannabis products based on potency, it is crucial to have an accurate profile of terpenes and cannabinoids readily available for their review. Besides personal preference, this information is also critical to providing both consumers and suppliers the opportunity to make educated choices about their cannabis consumption.
For instance, many people believe that a higher THC concentration indicates better quality flower or enhanced psychological effects. However, access to comprehensive potency testing data can inform them of the product’s CBD and terpene concentrations as well, to help prevent erroneous decisions founded on this misconception.
Other cannabinoids’ and terpenes’ potency is a major factor that determines the physiological benefits and side effects the user can expect. For example, a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio will not produce the same effects as a product with a 2:1 ratio.
Professional testing will provide you with this information, alongside that discussed below, to equip you and your customers to make fully informed decisions about medical cannabis.
Understanding the Strain’s Terpenes
There are over 140 unique terpenes in the cannabis plant. These are essentially cannabis’ “essential oils,” as they are largely responsible for the flower’s fragrance. Terpenes can also enhance a strain’s medicinal properties through a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”
This is when the plant’s major chemical compounds all work together to produce a cohesive experience for the consumer (e.g., calming anxiety, relieving pain, etc.).
Additionally, terpenes are so instrumental in cannabis’s effects that they play a large role in distinguishing Indica versus Sativa types. This detail is critical in helping develop expectations of specific medical advantages. (For example, Indica strains often assist with sleep, while Sativa types are useful for concentration).
The entourage effect has gained substantial attention in the medical field, particularly among those hoping for cannabis’ advancement and wider acceptance as a medicinal product.
Having a professional cannabis testing lab evaluate your product will inform you of the strain’s concentration of different cannabinoids and terpenes. With this information, you can fully educate your consumers on how your cannabis can help manage their medical condition.
Some of the most notable terpenes to keep an eye out for are those responsible for the chemical distinction between specific strains or, in some cases, Indica and Sativa altogether. For instance, some of Indica’s most common terpenes include:
Note that, while these can still be found in Sativa, more than half of Indica types contain notably higher concentrations of the terpenes above. Through a lab test, you can verify whether your products are Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid, and determine their associated medical advantages.
Preventing Contaminant Consumption
Unfortunately, cannabis is not immune to the vulnerabilities and flaws of the agricultural industry. Even growers who demonstrate exceeding levels of care for their products must come to terms with the risk of exposure to:
- Heavy metals
- Residue from pesticides or other chemical control products
Many consumers (and perhaps, suppliers, too) would like to believe that, as a naturally-occurring and well-adapted plant, cannabis cannot succumb to these risks like other commercial crops. Yet, studies have shown that medical marijuana is the furthest from a “disease-free” crop.
In fact, there are more than 88 fungal species known to cause disease in Cannabis plants, the most threatening of which are:
- Botrytis cinerea: This species is responsible for the accumulation of gray mold.
- Trichothecium roseum: This bacteria causes white mildew, also known as “pink rot.”
- Alternaria alternata: Cannabis plants infested with this bacteria can suffer from brown blight.
Additionally, researchers have recorded eight types of pathogenic bacteria that target the plant as well.
Specific metals that might contaminate cannabis cultivars include:
- Cadmium: Consumption of this contaminant can result in flu-like symptoms and potentially inflict lung, kidney, and bone diseases.
- Mercury: Inhaling mercury can severely damage the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. It may also harm the lungs and kidneys.
- Lead: The effects of consuming lead mainly include anemia, weakness, and damage to the brain and kidney. It can be especially harmful to pregnant women and may even become fatal to all consumers who use the contaminated product.
- Arsenic: This metal is associated with various types of cancer, diabetes, skin disease (specifically, lesions), and cardiovascular disease.
- Nickel: People who inhale this heavy metal are likely to suffer from chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, or lung and nasal sinus cancers.
Concerning pesticides, studies have shown that smokable marijuana can retain up to 69.5% of accumulated pesticide residues, a concentration that can inflict severe consequences on the consumer. The key to catching such harmful factors before distribution is to entrust your product to a cannabis testing lab like Modern Canna.
How Does Marijuana Testing Work?
The precise process by which cannabis is tested can differ between providers. The researchers at Modern Canna take every possible precaution and utilize the most cutting edge cannabis testing methods to ensure that all products processed through their facility are safe for medical patients and consumers.
A condensed version of Modern Canna’s sample submission procedures is as follows:
- An official representing an MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center) fills out a document requesting a sample’s testing.
- Modern Canna dispatches two individuals, the sampler and courier, per Florida’s OMMU to the MMTC.
- Using the necessary sterilized materials and PPE (personal protective equipment), the sampler and courier verify that the area is clear of contaminants.
- Document all necessary observations and randomly collect unopened samples that have not been tampered with.
- All samples are then weighed, stored in a transport vessel, and secured with a tamper evident seal.
- The client signs the chain-of-custody (COC) document stating that they are releasing their samples to Modern Canna.
- The samples are transported to Modern Canna for lab testing.
When the sample reaches the lab, there are a few different analyses Modern Canna analysts typically run, all of which are described below.
Different Types of Cannabis Testing
Each test has a unique purpose in identifying your cannabis product’s chemical composition, medical advantages, and overall biological profile. Some of the testing methods in practice at Modern Canna and their uses are as follows:
- Nutrients testing: This is essential for growers looking to maintain accurate biological insight into their plants through each growth cycle. The routine and diagnostic tests will inform you of the cannabis’s nutritional composition and the presence of any toxins.
- Note: These are best done monthly.
- Environmental testing: Modern Canna analysts will conduct multifaceted analyses on solid waste and wastewater to defend your cultivar against contamination from hazardous substances. This will also ensure you remain in compliance with Florida’s environmental laws.
- Cannabinoid testing: You should know exactly what is in your medical marijuana products, down to the individual concentrations of each major cannabinoid. At the very least, Modern Canna tests for the following cannabinoids to ensure you provide the most accurate profiling for consumers:
- Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
- Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
- Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Modern Canna also offers certified testing for terpenes, pesticides, microbials, mycotoxins, heavy metals, residual solvents, water activity, moisture, and more.
Cannabis testing is essential to ensuring a safe, medicinally advantageous product for consumers and peace-of-mind for suppliers. Whether you need full-fledged cannabis profiling, a contaminant analysis, environmental testing, or a nutrient evaluation, contact Modern Canna’s cannabis testing lab for a detailed, comprehensive look at your medical marijuana.