The Need for Well-Established Laboratory Testing Methods for Cannabis Products is Increasing

The cannabis industry is growing relatively faster, mainly because of its pharmaceutical advantages. Since the consumption of cannabis is increasing rapidly, more and more products are coming into the market.

But unfortunately, the consumers are not well educated about these products, nor the companies’ labels are accurate regarding the contents and their credibility.

Nevertheless, the users must have valid information about the product and its contents. The label must provide detailed information about the product inside. Yet, the information should be scientifically verified for its benefits.

According to recent studies and random surveys, it is observed that many cannabis products are not analytically tested. Many of them are labeled as “bad players” because the contents mentioned on their labels did not match the test results.

In a recent post, Hemp Industry Daily highlights how bad actors have influenced improper marketing without original CBD labels.

Evidence of Unauthentic Labeling

The JAMA Network has published a recent cohort study to highlight this issue. They claimed that the information about cannabinoid metabolites on the products’ labels is not always authentic. It’s because independent laboratory test reports do not support the contents mentioned in the label.

The study consists of the data of around 100 individuals. The experts collected more than 250 urine samples of those participants. The samples were collected five times during three years till August 2020.

Participants categorized the samples into three different classes.

  • CBD dominant products
  • THC dominant products
  • Almost identical CBD-THC products.

Introduction to CBD and THC

The two main compounds found in the cannabis plant or marijuana are CBD and THC. CBD stands for Cannabidiol, and THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.

  • People use CBD products for relaxation and pain relief. 
  • THC is a mind-altering compound that is psychoactive.

Analysis of CBD Samples

The analysis shows that CBD was not found in more than 30% of the samples of people using CBD-dominant products. While around 35% of the samples of people using similar CBD-THC products lacked CBD.

Vaping is said to be the most common way of consuming CBD. Interestingly, 20% of the samples of participants who claimed using vaping cartridges lacked CBD.  

Analysis of THC Samples 

Surprisingly, in 11% of the samples of people consuming THC dominant products, there was no THC. While in 35% of the samples of people using nearly equal THC-CBD, no THC detected.

Are the Results Surprising for Cannabis Market?

Since there are no appropriate measurement and labeling standards in the Cannabis market, the results were entirely predictable.

JAMA published similar results in 2017 for online cannabis purchases. They claimed that more than 80% of CBD products are not accurate. It was because the CBD level was less than claimed.

Another analysis done by the US Food and drug administration in 2014 shows similar results. It says that only 35% of products have accurate CBD levels, as shown on their labels.

In 2020, FDA evaluated more than 100 products claiming specific CBD ratios. In most of the products, the CBD level mentioned on the label did not match the test results.

Who is to Blame for the Inaccuracy?

Before blaming someone blindly for such blunders, it’s crucial to analyze the whole manufacturing procedure. 

Bad Players or the Manufacturers

Only because the facts and figures are pointing towards the manufacturers is it not appropriate to blame them.

Even though manufacturers remain answerable, there are a few technical aspects worth considering.

  • The results cater to a relatively more minor number of products. Besides, the studies were conducted on fewer individuals for quite a short time. However, FDA has begun the survey on a larger scale for a longer duration.
  • Moreover, the manufacturers do not submit their products directly to the market. They first send it to the laboratories. The expert analysts examine these products and finalize them for market sale.

Laboratories Inconsistencies

The testing laboratories for cannabis are not following the same testing procedures. Perhaps, there is no standard test available for examining such products. Therefore, every lab has set its testing criteria.  

Since most of the world has banned cannabis and its products for decades, it will take time before we can see standard testing procedures for cannabis products. 

The ways of consuming cannabis vary from place to place, person to person. The products infusing cannabis include supplements, oils, skin-care items, etc.

Since every lab is following a different method of testing, the accuracy and authenticity become uncertain.

Matrix complexity is a complex feature that needs to be examined critically. Unfortunately, many labs do not thoroughly check it.

Secondly, it is always important to satisfy the customer. If one lab does not give the ‘desired’ reports, the customer eventually seeks another lab. 

Since there is competition in every field regarding customer satisfaction, the competitor labs provide desirable results that satisfy the customer.

Sampling Error

The labs are forced to follow the bulk-sampling procedure, which is shocking. The authorities do not allow labs to take more significant amounts for testing.

They allow only 20 to 30 grams per 50 pounds. This is a highly insufficient amount to test such a complex compound.

It leads to inaccuracy and difference in testing results for two different samples of the same material. That is why there is a need for proper testing standards for labs. Because the regulatory bodies have no idea of the need for complex chemical analysis, this product needs.

Intentionally or not, these regulatory authorities are somehow responsible for the inaccuracy in the product’s contents. However, nobody blames them for such a discrepancy.

Patchwork Issues

Consumers are highly concerned about the inaccurate labels of these products. The need for standardized testing and validation methods is growing.

Until this happens, people should be careful while using these products.

Conclusion

Since the testing methods are questionable, there is a need for awareness. Until the establishment of appropriate testing techniques, the federal regulatory bodies must be aware of inaccurate labeling and testing consequences.

It falls upon the government to impose laws for appropriate testing methodologies. There is a need to ensure that every laboratory is following the established testing and validation method. 

Moreover, the science experts have a significant role to play in the making of standard testing techniques.

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