Cannabis is a beautiful flower, but can also be moldy, contain fungus, and bugs. Interestingly, when cannabis is in the cultivation stage, it absorbs everything around what it is exposed to. This includes nutrients in the soil to contaminant pesticides in the air. Cannabis is tested to get rid of any materials that cannot remain in the final product thus eliminating anything that could potentially harm a medical or recreational cannabis patient.
The main reason cannabis is tested is to ensure it is safe for human consumption. Residual chemicals can create safety issues, especially to ones prone to asthma, allergies, or compromised immune systems. Therefore, getting rid of any chemicals should be at the top of cannabis lab testing agendas.
Ways cannabis is tested includes:
- It is important that the product potency is labeled correctly because users want to know the exact amount of intake when dosing. Ways potency is measured can be done by cannabinoid per weight (typically seen as for example: 18% THC), the total amount of cannabinoids in the product (measured in mg), or a ratio of THC and CBD.
- Microbial contaminants
- Where fungus, mildew, mold, salmonella, or E. Coli grow on the flower. Typically seen when cannabis gets wet.
- Chemical contaminants
- Where pesticides, growth hormones, or in extraction processes, ethanol and butane are found in the plant.
- Physical contaminants
- Where dirt, dust, heavy metals, hair, lead, or mercury are found in the plant.
- Microbial contaminants
Each testing process is under strict guidelines to ensure the product is safe. Once the lab tests are complete, the cannabis will be stamped with a certificate of analysis (COA). This confirms that the flower has gotten rid of residual solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, has been tested for potency, and more.
Cannabis is subject to the environment in which it grows. Their chemical makeup changes depending on who grows it, where it is grown, and what the conditions in which it grows are like. Depending on the potency, it will change the cannabinoid and terpene profile, therefore altering the probable effects it will have on a user.
- Cannabinoid and Terpene profiling can identify THC, CBD, THCA, CBG, and others present in the plant.
Some THC testing will show results probable to psychoactive effects, while others will show probable results for bodily effects.
Additionally, recreational, and medical cannabis testing are similar. It is probable that the medical marijuana your doctor prescribes was grown in the same space where recreational cannabis is stored.