Cannabis potency tests improving as legalization gets closer

Researchers are working to develop more efficient processes in testing cannabis potency. File/ The Canadian Press

With legalization on the horizon, pot potency is top of mind. The strength and effects of cannabis products are going to be an integral part of legalization.

A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia Okanagan is working on streamlining the process of testing the potency of marijuana. One member of the team told the Alberta Morning News, it’s mostly based on improving existing processes.

“We have developed a new testing protocol that basically speeds things up,” Matt Noesthedon said. “It doesn’t directly impact the producers, but indirectly it does – they can get their product tested faster, which means they can get it to market faster.”

The active compounds that Health Canada and marijuana producers are most interested in are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). But the BC researchers are interested in looking at many more components of cannabis.

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“There’s a lot of other similar compounds that the jury is still out on as far as what their biological activity is,” Noesthedon explained.

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“But there’s strong evidence that they do have an impact on your person when you ingest the cannabis product.”

The purpose of testing the other elements present in cannabis is what Noesthedon called “future proofing.” If they can identify all the factors that contribute to potency, they won’t find themselves back to the drawing board in a few years looking for new methods of testing.

Current tests are able to assign a number value of potency to dried marijuana, concentrated oils and edibles, such as cookies or brownies.

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“Using some advanced analytical instrumentation, we can give you an exact number for the different bio-active compounds that are in the cannabis,” Noesthedon said.

As the legalization process continues, producers will have to get their products tested based on these standards. All the data will be recorded and provided to Health Canada as a matter of record.

“It’s a very well-regulated process,” Noesthedon said.

“And I think that will benefit the cannabis users out there, to get them a more consistent and safer product for them to be consuming recreationally or medicinally.”

While a date has not been officially set for marijuana legalization, Noesthedon said creating testing processes like the ones they are working on will be of the utmost importance for getting a variety of safe, high-quality cannabis products on the market.

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