In a previous post titled Facts You Should Know Before Using Marijuana THC Test Kits, we discussed how THC test kits work. Not only that post got a lot of views from our readers, but we received back-to-back emails requesting us to explore more about testing.
So in this article, we are going to talk about potency testing, which is equally important (if not more). The first thing you should know is why potency testing is important. It reveals how strong a cannabis product is and its chemical properties. The potency of the product determines its effect.
Importance of lab testing
Yes, home testing is a feasible option but lab testing is always more accurate and more detailed. As home testing kits are designed in compliance with the law, not all cannabinoids can be tested using these kits for the law doesn’t require testing minor ones and terpenes. But lab testing is comprehensive and thoroughly examines a product’s potency.
How does lab testing work?
When a product is a lab tested, its CBD and THC levels are estimated. The technique employed by lab assistants is called HPLC, short for high-performance liquid chromatography. Using this technique, they isolate a chemical compound and measures its amount in a solution.
When cannabis is tested, the solution is created using ethanol. The solution is put in a tube and pressure is applied. The tube contains an element that attracts certain compounds. One end of the tube is attached with a detector that measures ultraviolet light absorbance. Different compounds reach the detector at different times because of their relative abundance. This way, the cannabis product is characterized and its potency is measured.
Understand HPLC is not the de jure lab testing method. It may be a popular method but private laboratories use rigorous and more scientific methods they don’t disclose.
How accurate is it?
Potency testing results are normally accurate. However, the condition of the laboratory, the techniques employed and the materials used all play a role. Sometimes, two potency testing results contradict one another. Data collected from a number of labs reported fresh samples to contain acidic cannabinoids in high amount. But other lab reports contradict this claim.
In most cases, confusions arise because of flawed methodologies, overlapping between neutral cannabinoids which the detector wrongly interprets as acidic and not confirming the peak for acidic cannabinoids in the chromatogram. Sometimes, the potency testing method suspects inflated quantity of THC and confusion is caused.
The hybrid approach
A hybrid approach is currently developing and gaining traction. It requires the use of transportable cannabis potency analyzer. Such analyzers are available in the market, though not in huge quantity as the demand for them is low.
It’s easy to buy a potency analyzer as there are so many in the market. So, don’t purchase one before comparing a few of them. Couple of things you need to look for in the analyzer. First, the turnaround time. How much time does the analyzer take to reveal the result? The purchasable ones are those that display the result within a few minutes.
Second, does it detect terpenes or only cannabinoids? A robust chemical profiling of the cannabis product requires terpene testing. The top analyzers can detect up to 20 terpenes. Third, does it come with a prediction mode? This model works by collecting portable analyzer results and matching them against the company’s chemical database. Based on that, it predicts the quality of the cannabis product. How much high it’ll make one feel, how much use it’d be in treating chronic pain, etc. Of course, CBD and THC potencies are accurately revealed by such analyzers.
Sampling and standard
When it comes to lab testing, commercial standards are followed. A commercial standard concentration is 1000 microgram per milliliter. Or it could be a mix of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and cannabinol where the volume of each of these compounds is 1000 microgram per milliliter.
We skip the preparation technique for high THC samples as the objective of this article is to offer insights into medical marijuana which is high in CBD. To prepare a high CBD solution, the expected concentration of CBD should be 20%. For that, the preparation needs 20 mg CBD in 30 ml solution. In other words, CBD’s quantity should be more than other cannabinoids.
If you want to test the potency of CBD, you can do it at home or hire private laboratories to do it for you. Chances of error are less if the correct methods are used. If you outsource potency testing, you can’t really know whether they have used accurate methods since you are an outsider, but having a bit of technical knowledge doesn’t hurt really.
Do what you find best for you. If you are confident that you can do hands-on with the test kits at home and get reliable results, do it. If you don’t want to burden yourself, just send the cannabis product to a lab. Whatever you do, bear in mind potency testing is important to know whether your cannabis product is worth the money. So don’t skip it.