Navigating the 2018 cannabis wellness market can be a bit tricky with new brands popping up and innovative products coming to market. A well-designed brand is more than a logo and a trendy box. All cannabis, hemp, and CBD products need to be lab tested. Whether you are new to using CBD products or have incorporated it into your routine, to tame your stress with relaxation or infuse your day with a plant-based boost you want to be sure you mark these 5 things off before you buy.
1. Pesticides – PASS
We are dealing with plants here… plants have pests. Well, we all have pests really… but some growers use pesticides to rid the plants of spider mites, thrips, aphids, moths, fungus, harmful nematodes and a host of others. The label should show that your flower, concentrate, or product has been tested and passed the pesticide test. People have been consuming it for hundreds of years…why should I be concerned? Your body is your vessel and cannabis works to recreate balance in your life. As the market continues to evolve many people are moving into the industry without much experience with agriculture or pesticides. With money involved and regulations evolving, some pesticide testing is more of an ethical decision. You know your health is worth the cost of testing. But do they?
2. Residual Solvents – PASS
The process of extraction entails utilizing a solvent to extract active ingredients from the plant material to produce cannabis oils, a resinous, sticky, glassy product. Extraction can be accomplished with many mediums including but not limited to carbon dioxide, acetone, ethanol, and butane. Even with carbon dioxide or solvent-less extractions, solvents are often used in cleaning the equipment and can end up in your final product. When the process does not fully remove the solvent, residual solvents remain in your products. Scary stuff! Can you imagine ingesting or inhaling these sometimes toxic chemicals? It is close to impossible to remove all residual solvents, however, testing will ensure your product falls below the parts per million (ppm) threshold for the solvent used. Ideally, you want the effects of the potent cannabinoids and not the residual solvents.
The level of water activity in any cannabis is critical to its microbial content. Samples should be tested for total yeast and mold, E. coli, Pseudomonas, Coliforms, Salmonella, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Mucor, Thermophilic Actinomycetes, to name a few. Both bacteria and fungi (i.e. mold) require certain conditions in order to replicate and present a health hazard. Inhaling or ingesting moldy cannabis can make you sick. Many plant-based foods have a high moisture content and are able to support robust microbial replication. Temperature, water activity, and route of administration impact the potential for plant-born hazards. Testing for microbial content is a recommended “better safe than sorry”.
According to Steep Hill Labs, 20-30% of the cannabis they see is contaminated by fungus or mold. There are at least 88 different species of fungi which cannabis can fall under attack.¹
4. Cannabinoid Profile – Potency
If you are new to cannabis or not interested in the “high”, potency testing will save you. Knowing how much THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN (and more) are in your products will determine how you dose yourself. Potency can be shown as mg/g, mg/ml, or %. Before you buy you should be clear on the cannabinoid profile and potency of your product. Different profiles will result in varied results, therefore, it is important to document each experience and use your labels to recreate pleasurable outcomes.
5. Terpene Profile
Terpenes are the cousin who knows three languages and has a full passport. They are equally important too, but harder to find in, CBD products. When you think of terpenes, think of aromatherapy the holistic healing modality. These cannabis’ terpenes determine the compelling aroma and flavor in each strain.
Around 200 terpenes and 100 cannabinoids have been found in cannabis, but only a few of these substances appear in amounts substantial enough to be noteworthy. The synergy of these compounds is what makes the plant special. An “entourage effect” magnifies the therapeutic benefits of the plant’s individual components – so the impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts. Family values, indeed.
Knowing your body and knowing your products is your responsibility. • Become an advocate for your health by learning about what is going in and on your body.