This month we will take another look at Cannabis testing in Oregon – what that means for producers, labs, and consumers. Last month, I learned through my interviews with a producer and a lab that there can be a great degree of variance in Cannabis potency numbers. Last month, through my interviews with a producer and a lab, I learned through my interviews that there can be a great degree of variance in Cannabis potency numbers.
What does a potency test percentage mean to you as someone who previously worked at an accredited Oregon testing lab?
It can mean how strong the effects of a product can be, but it does not tell you how it will actually make you feel at all. Since I have worked in both the lab and cultivar branches of the market, I know that ALL the cannabinoids, terpenes, and even flavonoids etc. have an effect on how euphoric or high you would feel. There are studies that prove it is the Entourage Effect that gives a flower its effects, not just the total THC percentage.
Is it possible for the producers to influence their numbers (via grow/cure method or other tricks?) How do these methods affect the quality of the final Cannabis product?
Yes, producers can influence their numbers by growing plants until they are actually finished by scoping trichomes. Cutting plants that are immature or too mature can cause a loss in total THC. Another huge thing producers can do is cure properly. Producers have a tendency of drying too quickly. A proper drying period should take almost three weeks at 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent humidity. Then it should still be burped in bags or bins for a couple more weeks. In total it should take about five weeks to cure flower properly. It will keep the cannabinoids intact and terpenes from volatilizing. It causes the finished product to have maximum potency and the best possible flavor and smell.
Is it possible for labs to influence potency numbers? How would this happen hypothetically?
It is possible for a sketchy-dishonest lab technician to influence potency results. In all of the Oregon recreational marijuana labs, aliquots taken to be extracted for testing, are weighed. That weight is recorded manually on paper and digitally. Some labs may print weights directly from the scale, but I know most do not because the state does not require this to be done. That means if someone wanted to, they could change the recorded weight to a weight that is smaller than what the aliquot actually weighs or add more to the aliquot without recording the difference; both would cause the potency to appear higher than it should.
What is the biggest benefit that current lab testing provides to consumers in your eyes?
The biggest benefit is definitely the pesticide testing. Just making sure people are not using easily accessible poisonous products to treat their plants is huge for the consumer. Oregon screens for more pesticides for marijuana than any other agricultural product in any other state. I think this is very important when wanting a safe product for consumers.
“OREGON SCREENS FOR MORE PESTICIDES IN CANNABIS THAN ANY OTHER AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT IN ANY OTHER STATE.”
During the OMMP only days mold and mildew testing were required, under the current OLCC adult use system we have there is no mandatory testing for this. Have you ever seen or purchased a product with mold or pm in an OLCC dispensary?
I have, and I am not happy about it. I think it is very easy for a retail store employee or owner to see the mold or mildew on the flower. I get you probably cannot inspect every single bud that comes into the store but what I received was very noticeable. I think to solve any problems with this is to just require the microbial contamination test again. It does not cost much, and it is very easy to do.
As a Cannabis consumer, what indicators do you look for when buying products in an OLCC dispensary?
I always go for smell first. I’ll then look for other attributes like trichome size and density, bud structure, and then I’ll look to see what cannabinoids and terpenes are predominant so I can decide if it is right for what I need it for.