Why Does Cannabis Need To Be Tested?
Testing makes sure cannabis products are safe and labeled properly. This section describes how the process works, how to read the results, and the difference between some of the most common cannabinoids.
Cannabis has many medicinal benefits, and as all medicinal products have information regarding their strength and dosage information, cannabis products are now being held to the same standards. Regulations and standards for acceptable limits of specific compounds are currently being developed by international organizations to ensure cannabis products do not compromise a person’s immune system. The two major reasons cannabis products are tested are: 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 during cultivation and absorb everything to which they’re exposed, from the nutrients and heavy metals in the soil, to the pesticides that may have found their way into a greenhouse from the neighboring farm. For this reason, cannabis products are now tested for any materials that can remain present in the final flower. Regulatory agencies have started establishing maximum quantity limits that are acceptable for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and mycotoxins.
The use of dangerous Pesticides, Fungicides, and Plant Growth Regulators on Cannabis has been documented. These residual toxins create potentially dangerous safety issues to patients when consumed. Mold and fungal contaminants should be of concern to anyone who consumes medical Cannabis, especially those that are prone to asthma, allergies, or have a compromised immune system.
Similar to the tomatoes at the grocery store or a shirt you buy online, there are acceptable limits that agencies have set for each compound and they are all listed in a cannabis products “Certificate of Analysis.” 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.
Lab testing is the only way to know the cannabinoid makeup and terpene profile of the cannabis product you’re consuming. These two variables are the most important to consider when selecting your cannabis as they directly influence the experience you will have.
Because cannabis is influenced so much from the environment in which it is grown, a cultivar grown in one part of the world might look the same as another cultivar you experienced in the past, but it may contain completely different amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes, which will change your experience. In simple terms, one cultivator’s “Blue Dream” may have a different potency and chemical makeup than another’s. It is important to pay attention to the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes present in cannabis prior to consumption to best anticipate the effects you may experience.