As with any other medicinal products or pharmaceutical drugs on the market today, legal cannabis is required to undergo rigorous testing and to properly label each product with its strength and dosage information. The two major reasons cannabis products are lab tested, as Weedmaps.com states, is “to verify the products are safe for human consumption and to give consumers an idea of the potency of the product they are using.”
Cannabis plants act like a sponge and can easily absorb harmful substances they may be exposed to during the cultivation, production or packaging process. Currently, any legal cannabis product purchased from a licensed facility in the United States is required to undergo a series of tests by a state-accredited lab. These lab tests help ensure that legal cannabis products are safe to consume and easy to dose. State regulatory agencies have started establishing maximum quantity limits that are acceptable for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, microbials and mycotoxins.
What Your Cannabis Is Being Tested For
Leafly.com explains that lab tests primarily screen for potency and levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), residual pesticides, unwanted contaminants and the presence of mycotoxins like mold and mildew.
All cannabis products can obtain additional tests to map their cannabinoid and terpene profiles. These tests are not necessary for compliance, but producers can get them to better understand the strains that they are cultivating. Each lab test requires special equipment and procedures must be performed by carefully trained and licensed technicians.
Weedmaps.com describes how “lab testing is the only way to know the cannabinoid makeup and terpene profile of the cannabis product you are consuming. These two variables are the most important to consider when selecting your cannabis as they directly influence the experience you will have.” Potency tests report how much THC and CBD exist in each product, and according to Leafly.com, these metrics can be provided in a number of ways:
- Cannabinoid per weight (For Example: 20% THC)
- Total cannabinoids present (For Example: 150mg THC)
- A ratio of THC:CBD (For Example: 2:1 CBD:THC)
The use of dangerous pesticides, fungicides and plant growth regulators on cannabis products have been documented. These residual toxins create potentially dangerous health issues to cannabis consumers, especially those with conditions like asthma, allergies or a compromised immune system.
Similar to the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, regulatory agencies have set acceptable limits for each compound and they are all listed in the “Certificate of Analysis.” According to Leafly.com, “a certificate of analysis shows the lab testing results and allows consumers to ensure the products they consume are free of unwanted chemicals, pests, or organisms that can compromise a person’s immune system, including residual solvents, microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, heavy metals and pesticides.”
Contamination screening when lab testing cannabis products is divided into three major categories:
During cultivation, plants can be exposed to a range of pesticides and other chemicals, like artificial growth hormones, that can be dangerous for a consumer to ingest. State regulatory agencies have lists of banned pesticides and legal cannabis products must be free of these in order to meet compliance and make it on the dispensary shelves.
Pathogenic microorganisms are harmful even at low levels because they produce toxins that cause a variety of symptoms, from allergy-like symptoms to various types of cancer. Other microorganisms are harmful at mid to higher levels of contamination, particularly if they are inhaled. The sources of microbiological contamination may be from production, or growing, and the mishandling of the product. During production, microbial contamination can come from water and nutrient sources like the composted soil, as well as the facility air.
Physical Contaminants and Heavy Metals
Physical contaminants like dust, dirt, hair and even fecal matter can make their way into cannabis products due to poor cultivation or packaging practices. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury and even cadmium can make their way into cannabis products. These heavy metals are severely dangerous if ingested.
Why Buy and Consume Only Lab Tested Cannabis?
As for illegal producers of cannabis, they may be supplying cannabis unhindered containing high levels of potentially harmful contaminants, such as fungi or pesticide residues that are dangerous if ingested. These “dealers” do not grow their own product so they have no knowledge regarding the purity or potency of the cannabis, terpene profile or pesticides and chemicals used in farming.
For this reason, lab testing is an integral part of the legal landscape surrounding cannabis. It is worth purchasing legal cannabis products from Las Vegas marijuana dispensaries that test their products for any toxic materials and only offer the highest quality and variety of cannabis products.