What Product Testing Is Required To Make Legalised Recreational Marijuana Safe?

As the global cannabis market expands, so does the cannabis product testing industry

The global industry for cannabis product testing is expected to grow at an annual rate of 13.2 percent, reaching $1.5 billion by 2026.


Cannabis testing market growth rate. Source

Within the last decade, cannabis has been extensively studied and researched for its medical benefits in the treatment of epilepsy, pain relief, stress relief, arthritis, neurological diseases and many more. The positive outcome of these studies has led to cannabis legalisation in many parts of the world, as well as the manufacturing of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products.

Though an increasing number of states in the United States (U.S.) and nations around the world have legalised cannabis, that doesn’t mean that marijuana products sold in the market are tested consumer products. Many of these potent buds are covered in fungus while many others may contain butane. Cannabis is often contaminated with pesticide residue and heavy metals because of cultivation areas and different production techniques. Therefore, it is important to check any containment in the samples of cannabis products.

According to an analysis of marijuana in Colorado last May, people became sick from consuming edible cannabis products. Thus, the state of Colorado began the product testing process, requiring producers of cannabis-infused candies, baked goods and cookies to submit samples of their products to a newly licensed independent lab for testing.

The U.S. state of Washington also mandated testing marijuana products with a detailed checklist to analyse, including potency, moisture, contaminants and microbiology.

Cannabis product testing is an entirely new phenomenon. Though cannabis has been sold in many parts of the world for medical or recreational purposes, the testing has never been mandated until the drug was legalised in those areas. Now, there are licensed government-controlled labs to analyse and test products in the jurisdictions where cannabis is legal.


What do cannabis product testing labs do?

First, testers check their marijuana products’ potency levels. Many growers don’t test their cannabis for potency, and that’s the reason two buds may vary in their THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content as well as effects. Thus, even though the manufacturer uses the same recipe for making cannabis products, the effect of the individual contents of the product may vary -- for example, one cannabis gummy may be less potent than the next.

Labs such as CHARAS Scientific evaluate every cannabis product and use their analyses to look for trends. The lab recently found that marijuana’s potency is rapidly increasing, with THC content around 30 percent, which is three times stronger than cannabis available in the 1980s. THC is the major psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant, and this is responsible for giving users that “high” effect.

According to Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesperson with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, some of the cannabis testing labs in Washington have noticed THC levels as high as 40 percent. The increasing THC level causes CBD (cannabidiol) to decline. That’s problematic for medical cannabis users, as CBD is associated with more medical benefits than THC.

Additionally, many of cannabis products are contaminated with butane, a chemical used for extracting the potent THC from its buds. Bacteria and fungi grow everywhere, including marijuana buds, which mean they’re in marijuana products. Synthetic pesticides like myclobutanil are used to combat fungus, but if inhaled or ingested, these chemicals pose life-threatening health risks to consumers. Lawmakers in Canada and legal US states recently prohibited the use of dozens of such pesticides, enacting fines of up to $1 million.


Cannabis testing lab. Source

Testing labs test cannabis products against everything that can cause consumers to fall sick. They are responsible for ensuring that consumers use cannabis products that are safe to consume and have intended benefits. Cannabis product testing has now become mandatory in legalised marijuana markets. This means consumers can feel safe about using the drug in such areas.


Final words

Currently, there just isn’t enough cannabis testing facilities available to meet the increasing demand of the drug. However, a growing number of key players are expected to drive the growth of this sector, as companies are partnering with stakeholders in the cannabis testing industry.

An increasing number of laboratories are getting accredited by governments to provide cannabis testing facilities for a wide range of parameters. This will come in handy to cannabis users, ensuring them their purchased products have passed through a testing phase to ensure its quality.