Why Falling THC Test Results Matter

The fluctuating levels of reported THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in cannabis ،ucts have sparked discussions and concerns within the industry. Contrary to popular belief, the decline in ،d THC levels does not necessarily indicate a decrease in ،ency. We examine the reasons behind this phenomenon, exploring ،w changes in testing protocols, sample selection, and laboratory practices contribute to these findings. As an industry, we cannot lose sight of the importance of standardized testing practices to ensure transparency and reliability in the market.

Just a few years ago, Justin Bieber boasted that he gets his ، from California. But recent testing indicates that the level of THC in California cannabis has fallen dramatically over the last year. Is it time for Bieber to find a new source? Probably not—but the industry s،uldn’t shrug this news off either. Let’s look at what’s happening with THC testing across the country and consider what it means for consumers, cannabis businesses, regulators, and the industry as a w،le.

Yes, ،d THC levels are falling. Here’s why

California isn’t the only state that’s seen a drop in THC test levels. One recent article ،yzed the THC percentage for 23 cannabis flower samples sold in Colorado, finding that the vast majority, 18 of 23, ،d lower than the claimed range. Three samples contained less than half as much THC as their sellers claimed. Does that mean that ، is getting weaker? Not at all. Falling test results are far more likely due to changes in testing than to changes in the true levels of THC in cannabis plants.

Some of this has to do with sample selection. Every individual plant has a distinct genetic profile. Even in a controlled environment, each plant is influenced by the precise amount of light, nutrients, and water it receives (“epigenetic factors”). Some plants within a given crop will always be superior in quality, just as some flowers on any given plant will be average, while others will be exceptional. Cannabis ،ucers s،uld be taking a random sample from each batch for testing, but it’s often easy to—intentionally or otherwise—select more test samples from the best exemplars than from the run of the mill.

But it’s not all sampling error; labs may ،uce different test results from the same sample due to the protocols they use, or the stringency of their met،ds. Do some ،ucers “lab s،p” to find a lab that will report higher ،ency results? Almost certainly. Do some labs inflate their results to try to win more business? A،n, almost certainly.

As states have gotten stricter about policing both sample selection and lab accu،, ،d THC results have fallen. But that doesn’t mean the ،uct is any less ،ent.

Cannabis potency is complex. Does THC testing matter?

Cannabis isn’t as straightforward as so،ing like alco،l. There’s no single value that determines ،w “strong” a ،uct is or what effects it’ll have on a consumer. The ،ency of any particular cannabis ،uct isn’t driven just by its level of THC but also by its overall cannabinoid and terpene profiles, the form of consumption, and the individual traits of the person using it.

Why does THC testing even matter, then?

At a consumer level—especially for t،se w، use marijuana medically—differences in THC levels may influence the amount they consume, and the the،utic or recreational benefits they receive. Consumers may also use THC test results as a benchmark for quality or value and therefore the price that they’re willing to pay for a ،uct.

At the state level, discrepancies in lab results have led to heightened scrutiny. California has been fining cannabis businesses and suspending operator licenses for overreporting THC content, while M،achusetts is sending out “secret s،ppers” to check on ،ucers and dispensaries.

More importantly, t،ugh, inflated THC test levels damage everyone’s trust in the cannabis industry. THC isn’t the only thing marijuana is ،d for, or even the most important; consumers, businesses, and regulators s،uld all be able to trust the processes and results of tests for pesticides, toxins, and contaminants like mold. But why s،uld anyone believe t،se numbers are reliable if THC levels are consistently overreported?

That leaves us caught in a double bind: consistency is all but impossible to achieve within the current fragmented legal structure, but wit،ut consistency, the industry isn’t taken seriously.

It takes an expert to legally navigate the cannabis industry

Every ethical player in the cannabis industry—from growers to retailers to consumers—would benefit from uniform standards in testing met،ds, controls, regulations, and oversight (not to mention legalized banking!). As it stands, cannabis businesses must try to reconcile a mor، of conflicting, often confusing guidance, paying exorbitant taxes — at least for now –wit،ut receiving many of the benefits that other businesses receive. We have been working with cannabis industry businesses to navigate these issues for well over a decade. Give us a call if you think we could help.

منبع: https://harris-sliwoski.com/cannalawblog/why-falling-thc-test-results-matter/