All medical marijuana edibles, concentrates and other infused products made in Colorado will soon be subject to mandatory potency testing now that state testing laboratories have reached an acceptable level of proficiency, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Retail marijuana product manufacturers have been required to send all of their products in for potency testing since 2014, fourteen years after Amendment 20 legalized medical marijuana. But it wasn't until 2015 that the Colorado Legislature passed SB 260, a bill calling for medical marijuana and infused products to go though mandatory potency testing once the proficiency of state-approved cannabis testing labs was established. Now that it has been, all infused medical products must be tested for potency starting November 1. Any products made before that won't be subject to potency testing.
Proficiency testing for medical marijuana flower was established in 2016, with mandatory potency testing of flower beginning in November of that year.
Proficiency testing calls for different labs to all receive the same sample to ensure accuracy and standardize operations; each lab is given specific instructions on how to test and report the sample, and the results are compared to see how close they are.
Although infused medical product testing won't be mandatory until next month, many companies have already started sending their products in for potency testing, according to Incredibles Edibles co-founder Bob Eschino. "You can't really make an accurate product unless they're doing the testing," Eschino says. "I'd find it hard to believe that a medical company is not testing products now for potency. If you're making a 300-milligram product, you want that right. If you're not doing that already and you're in this industry, then shame on you."
Medical edibles don't have the 100-milligram limit on THC that their retail counterparts do, and incorrect dosing could hamper a medical patient's treatment. "It's equally important on both sides," Eschino explains. "For the same reasons I wouldn't want a recreational customer expecting 5 or 10 milligrams to over-consume, I wouldn't want a medical patient to, either."
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The mandatory tests will determine the level of concentration of certain cannabinoids, and whether or not THC is distributed consistently throughout the product. The current cannabinoids that labs measure are THC, THCa, CBD, CBDa and CBN; labs will be checking to see if a product's THC level is within 15 percent of its advertised potency. Any infused product that falls outside of that range can't be sold to the public and could be recalled.
Testing for CBD potency will also be mandatory if a product is advertised as "high-CBD" or makes claims about the CBD potency of the product, according to Gobi Labs co-founder Bugi Perrone. Gobi Labs is a state-certified testing lab, having analyzed cannabis samples since 2014.
Perrone says proficiency testing can take some time to get established because of constantly changing product composition and different testing methods. "Every lab has its own testing and extraction testing methods," she says. "And every edibles company uses different extraction methods depending on how the edible is made and which part of the edible is medicated. We also test for that."
Eschino says that infused-product manufacturers and testing labs need to work together to find a level of accuracy on both sides. "The first few years [of legalization], edibles were inconsistent. That was our focus when we came into this industry: People didn't like edibles because they were so inconsistent," he explains. "The labs have gotten a little better, which has made us as an industry more accurate. But policing within a variance is key. We need to make sure the labs are consistent, also."