How to read cannabis test results and why they matter
Currently in the cannabis industry with strict regulations and slow progression, consumers can be put in a tricky spot. More so than other industries, cannabis consumers have to put a good amount of trust in their local dispensary to source quality bud.
In addition to quality, the testing and labeling of the product is extremely important! You might be thinking that reading the label of your pre-rolls or favorite ounce is pretty straight forward. It may not be as simple as you think! First let’s quickly define the basics.
What is THCA?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or more simply put pre-THC, is found in ra w/pre-dried cannabis. THCA is non-intoxicating, but research shows that it contains health benefits to boast: anti-inflammatory, increases appetite, anti-nausea, and more.
What is THC?
Once THCA is decarboxylated it becomes, the familiar friend we know and love, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. This chemical compound is who we can thank for that blissful high when it binds itself to cannabinoid receptors in our brain and central nervous systems. Decarboxylation of THCA occurs with heat and time. Depending on the chosen method of consumption + time + temperature, the % of THC left to consume will vary.
How is cannabis tested?
Any licensed cannabis facility is required to submit their products to undergo a series of testing. Testing is required to ensure that these products meet compliance to sell and consume, state regulations may differ. One of the many tests performed on a given product is to analyze the potency: Cannabinoid per weight (e.g. 20% THC), total cannabinoids present (e.g. 150mg THC) and ratio of THC:CBD (e.g. 2:1 CBD:THC.) How does this all translate? Let’s take a look at one of our labels.
Agent Orange – 1 gram
These percentages represent the product in its dry state. The THCA percentage listed here is 25.6% and the THC percentage listed is 24.1%. According to this article from Leafly, “THC is lighter—it’s 87.7% of the molecular weight of THCA.” Also, when cannabis is decarboxylated, the transition of THCA to THC is not 100% efficient due to so many different variables including things we mentioned above: time, method, and temperature. So while the label offers its most accurate attempt at a final THC percentage, it might differ from what you experience based on how you enjoy it.
This week’s Back to the Basics challenge: Take a closer look at your labels when you purchase your weed this week! Check out the percentages listed as well as any terpene levels that might have been tested for as well.