In the past, the idea of cannabis testing labs would have been a preposterous notion. With the marijuana industry belonging to the black market, there was no room for that kind of analysis of an illegal product. These times are long behind us, however, and cannabis testing labs are not just a luxury, they are a necessity for those states that have legalized the plant in some form. At this point in time, 29 states have legalized cannabis for medicinal use and 8 states have legalized it for recreational purposes. With the plant being legal in California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Massachusetts and Maine, approximately 20 percent of the country legalized cannabis for personal use. The industry has expanded enormously and getting a safe, high quality product that tells you exactly what it has in it has now become not just a possibility but also a right.
The Necessity for Cannabis Testing Labs
There are many issues that can go wrong with a cannabis plant. Mold and other contaminants can become an issue and ultimately a safety hazard. For those using the plant for a specific purpose (whether to relax, get high, inspire creativity or treat any number of medical conditions), knowing exactly what compounds and terpenes are in the plant and in what strength can not only be helpful but also ensure that you avoid and achieve the effects that you most desire. This also helps to determine dosage, method of use and the time of day that may be best for your needs with your product. Toxic solvents are often used to extract the compounds in the plant. They are then removed. Testing is required to ensure that this is done correctly and the product is safe.
These are all important aspects to evaluate when it comes to your product. In the days of black market dominance, this kind of safety and profile check was impossible but these days cannabis consumers are treated with the same kind of safety testing applied to food and medicines. Cannabis testing labs analyze various aspects of cannabis products in particular. No plant is like another. Even if it the same strain of the same species, each plant is unique and its profile will depend on how this plant is grown and what chemical profile is produced as a result.
Testing the Strength of the Cannabis
The process for testing the potency of cannabis requires gas or liquid chromatography for a range of matrices. Cannabis testing labs will generally evaluate the plant’s THC and CBD levels, along with its tetrahydrocannabinolic and cannabidiolic acids although some labs do choose to test for CBC and CBG levels as well. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives you the feeling of euphoria or high. CBD is the compound that is often used for its pain killing and anti-inflammatory effects along with its ability to soothe and relax a person.
Understanding the Terpene Profile
Terpenes are the compounds in plants that hold their smell and taste. There are many terpenes, each with their own smell, taste and medicinal benefit. Some are citrus based and appear more heavily in some cannabis strains. Others may have aspects in common with flowers such as lavender while still others are more pine based or have aspects in common with thyme. Terpenes contribute to the medicinal benefits of the strain. Knowing which terpenes are present will not only allow a person to determine the plant’s medicinal benefits but also give an idea of how the plant will smell and taste. For those who savor the taste of their cannabis, this can be a pleasant and helpful thing.
Checking for Contaminants
Ensuring that the product is safe is extremely important. All kinds of contaminants can ruin a batch. Pesticides and heavy metals are of particular concern. Especially for those purchasing a product that advertises itself to be organic. Pesticides can have a very harsh effect on the body and many people who consume cannabis are looking for healthier and safer ways to get medical treatment or have fun. Contaminants can ruin this and be a health hazard.
Evaluating Microbial Content
When dealing with fresh cannabis that has any kind of water content, tests are done to determine if E.coli, Clostridium botulinum, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are present. Testing for microbial content involves statistical sampling, relevant microorganism testing, and sound assay design and validation. This is definitely a safety issue to ensure that the product is free from mold, salmonella, yeast, bacteria and other microbial elements that could render a consumer very ill. The water content is a critical element to the development of this kind of harmful microbial activity and, for this reason, the curing process is very important. Plants need to be cleaned, dried thoroughly and properly, and stored correctly. Testing labs can ensure that this has occurred.
Getting a Residual Solvent Analysis
Solvents like ethanol, carbon dioxide and butane are used to extract cannabis compounds from a plant, usually to create products that contain a concentrated amount of cannabis compounds. Large volumes of solvents help to get a purer concentrate. Once the extraction is done, however, the solvent needs to be removed from the plant. Otherwise, a person will be consuming toxic chemicals along with their cannabis. The residual solvent analysis takes care of this process, ensuring that consumers are buying a safe product.
As you can see, cannabis testing labs provide users with the confidence to use cannabis products without concern. The safety of the product is ensured and the profile and strength of the plant is clear, so you can use it and know exactly what you’re getting. If you have a preference or need for a CBD dominant strain, you can access that. If you prefer a THC high, that is also possible. All in all, cannabis testing labs provide safety and security to everyone in the cannabis industry as well as the industry’s many consumers, who are now able to be protected and confident when purchasing their cannabis from the dispensary or store.