Cannabinoid Profile Test Results

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Cannabinoid Profile Test Results

Washington Growers are the Best on the Planet – according to at least some of our accredited Labs

(Author’s note:  I initially considered titling this post “Setting Appropriate Retail Price Levels for Cannabis:  What the Feds (and, apparently, some of the Labs) Don’t Want Your Customers To Know”. … I decided that was not appropriately uplifting and “nice”, given the Season we are in).

Welcome to the third installment in my series assessing the results being reported by the 14 labs serving the testing needs of Washington’s State-legal Cannabis industry during the June/July/August period of this year.  This will close out my summarization of test results required by the WSLCB by discussing Foreign Matter screening  and Cannabinoid Profile (Potency) characterization.

Foreign Matter:

I don’t generally use traditional pie charts, as I believe their use without proper context can be misleading and that, even when used properly, they are very inefficient at communicating precise information when compared to a simple bar chart.

However, when the population represented by the pie is unambiguous and meaningful (as it is in this case – namely all of the screens conducted for Foreign Matter during June, July, and August of this year), and the slices of the pie are mutually exclusive and exhaustive (in this case passes vs failures), it can be a useful tool.  It is still an inefficient use of pixels, but pixels are cheap these days.

I chose to use a pie chart primarily so that I could look back one day and say that I did, but also because it actually does a good job of illustrating the primary takeaway regarding Foreign Matter screening.

HIBLOG_Post10_FinChart1_FMPie

After in-depth qualitative review, I have come to the conclusion that our bud is likely very very free of foreign matter.  I’m guessing if I came up with a statistic to use here, it would tell us that we are probabilistically very unlikely to see a failure (let alone lots of them).  It is almost as if Foreign Matter does not exist in Washington Bud.  Taken to it’s extreme this might lead to the conclusion that the only thing that exists in the Foreign Matter testing universe is pure, clean bud.  This is not surprising if the samples being tested are non-random, non-representative, non-PRAGUE in form).  It would have to be an inattentive grower that submits a sample for testing that contains enough foreign matter to merit a failure.  Either that, or a very attentive grower that is executing an objective, robust sampling protocol..

I do wonder about the utility of requiring a test that is almost never failed.  Of course, I also wonder about awarding trophies for participation, so take my value-laden opinions with a grain of salt.

I know that my gut and years of relevant education, training, and experience lead me to doubt whether non-random/non-representative sampling is compatible with having the ability to meaningfully generalize test results to the product actually finding it’s way onto retail shelves.  Every ounce of my being tells me it is not.

Since beginning my investigation of Washington’s Lab-reported Quality Assurance and Potency testing proficiency, I have increasingly found myself repeating the following mantra before going to bed:

“Washington Cannabis farmers are THE BEST and display extraordinary hygiene and quality assurance before their product is ever tested.  They make virtually no mistakes.  They are THAT GOOD.  Every single one of them.  Almost every single time.  I am so lucky to live in Washington – Land of the World’s Best Bud.”

The more I say it to myself, the more I come to almost believe it.  The more I come to believe it the lower my blood pressure becomes.

The reason it is important for me to believe is because I WANT it to be true.  I’m glad that the data appear to be largely supportive.  If, however, it is not really true, then some things that are showing up in the data must be errors.

Systematic errors.  Systematic errors that one might reasonably classify as being self-serving.

If what I repeat in the mantra every night is not true, then there appears to be something fundamentally wrong with at least some of the data being reported by at least some of the Labs.

To be frank, I don’t particularly care about Foreign Matter.  Perhaps I would if there was any evidence of it’s existence.  But it is a catch-22.  The data say it is almost never present.  Should I feel confident in the validity of this statement?  I don’t know.  But I do know that I keep repeating that mantra.  Perhaps I believe that the data are lying to me.

It is important that we all believe in the labels that assert the quality of our regulated Cannabis.  It is important because, if those labels are not accurate, then what benefit does that bagged/bottled/taxed stuff that one can’t even smell before purchase have over the stuff one can get from that now-out-of-work-priority 3 ex-dispensary owner forced out of business in the name of SSB 5052?  Forced out of business in the name of the people … in the name of the patients.

I would LIKE to believe that Foreign Matter does not exist in State-legal Cannabis.  I’d like even more to have a pattern of lab results that makes sense in a non-biased logical world.  That does not appear to be what I’m seeing now that I have summarized all of the test results.

No matter how often I repeat the mantra, I just don’t feel it to be completely true.

What is clear is that failures relating to the presence of large amounts of foreign matter are very rare and have been reported by only 3 of the 14 labs (in spite of the fact that ALL labs have conducted foreign matter tests).  I am, however, seeing an overall “pattern” of results across the different tests that seems oddly consistent.  That pattern will be summarized in the lab-level report card that I expect to publish later this month.

As it stands, Washington Bud is reported to be CLEAN (free of foreign matter).  I cannot say the same about Oregon’s bud.   Due to the fact that they do not tax bud in the unfair-competition market environment they have created down there, I find it difficult to believe that they have the same impeccable degree of oversight from the entire system (from growers through sampling through screening/testing through reporting) that we enjoy here in the true Northwest.  In spite of the attractive short-term economics of buying down there (state lines notwithstanding), I’d be hard-pressed to trust their relatively unregulated bud.  There is probably pizza mixed up in some of it.  They like their pizza down there in that relatively untaxed industry.  The farmers there can AFFORD pizza.

 

Cannabinoid Profiles (Potency):

On to that part of this series which I anticipate being of most interest to many readers:  Cannabinoid (Potency) testing.  It is becoming clear that the ability of our growers to acquire the pizza beloved by many of them is strongly linked to the reported Cannabinoid profile of their products.  If their product has Cannabinoid levels that are “too low”, it may not move at the price-points and/or frequency necessary to sustain their businesses – or appetites.

All of the tests up until this point have involved decisions of pass/fail for product based on quality attributes that relate to the safety of the product.  If the product fails, it is unsafe.  Unsafe product is not sale-able as such.

Tests conducted in a PRAGUE manner lend confidence to potential consumers that this relatively safe product has not been treated in a way that makes it less so.  These tests, and their validity, are crucial to public health.  Failing to maintain and expect consistently high proficiency from the labs is tantamount to putting consumers and patients at risk.  It is, effectively, trading short-term cash-flow and profit (and market-share for the labs) with the strategic viability (and health) of the regulated Cannabis market in this state … and the health of it’s consumers and patients.

The bottom line is that any failure to maintain proficiency in the functioning and reporting of the labs puts consumers (and patients) at risk.  Any lack of confidence in the quality of regulated Cannabis compromises the regulated Cannabis market.  It removes one of it’s primary advantages over the Dark Side.

Cannabinoid tests are different.  They are currently the primary window through which processors, retailers, and consumers can assess and grasp the “potency” and “medicinal-ness vs. recreational-ness” of any given product.  Cannabinoid results are central to knowing what psychoactive compounds are in the product and how much are in there.  They are crucial to knowing how much CBD is in the product.  They are crucial to knowing the CBD/THC ratio of the product.  They are crucial to not “pulling a Maureen Dowd”.

They also seem to be crucial in determining both the prices commanded by some products and the relative rapidity with which those products move through the system (this is an initial impression that I have developed while creating some tools intended to assist my consulting practice).

On to the results.  The pattern of change in average reported cannabinoid levels over time is dramatic and is worth detailing.  As such, I’ve decided to look at all I-502 potency testing performed on Flower between June of 2014 and August 2015.  (I’ve looked at all inventory types, but will only report on Flower in this series).

For each sample tested, values are reported for the % CBD, THC, THCA and “TOTAL” observed.  A consistent definition of  “TOTAL” was, apparently, unclear to the Labs until about May or June of this year.  Around May of this year, the Labs were directed to begin using THCmax when reporting “TOTAL”.  THCmax is the total amount of THC one would expect in the product if the THCA had been totally decarboxylated into THC.

THCmax is the metric that the AHP monograph (American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Inflorescence monograph, ver 2014) suggests should be used to describe “THC” in situations where differing levels of decarboxylation will be present.  It is a way of keeping the reporting of “THC levels” consistent across testing methods.

Normally, most of the THC in dried/cured bud will be in the form of THCA.  Over time, it will degrade into (among other things) THC.

As it turns out, some of the methods used to assess the cannabinoid profile by the Labs appear to result in the decarboxylation of the bud in the process of measuring cannabinoid levels

Here is a graphic of the average levels of THC and THCA reported by each lab for flower across the 5 quarters for which I have data.

HIBLOG_Post10_FinChart2_THCbylab

HIBLOG_Post10_FinChart3_THCAbylab

Comparing these two graphs, it is clear that Labs K and M are consistently reporting much higher levels of THC than their peers.  They are, at the same time, reporting much LOWER levels of THCA.  I’m guessing that these two labs exclusively use a decarboxylating test (likely gas chromatography).

If a customer’s attention can be focused on THC, the advantage of using GC to test Cannabinoid levels is clear.  This is part of the reason, no doubt, that the value of TOTAL is also required to be reported for tested product.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that what is being reported as TOTAL is clearly not THCmax (at least not consistently).

HIBLOG_Post10_FinChart4_Overall Trendsx3

This chart shows the overall average levels (across labs) reported for TOTAL and CBD —- and the average level of THCmax derived from reported values of THC and THCA.   As CBD averages are much lower, they are plotted against the right vertical axis.

The primary takeaways from this chart are that average reported Cannabinoid levels are increasing rapidly and that what is being reported as TOTAL has historically been higher than THCmax.  During the most recent quarter, it would appear that the labs are increasingly following the new direction from the WSLCB to use THCmax when reporting TOTAL.

I’ve pained for the better part of a week about how to best illustrate my primary points on Cannabinoid profile characterization.  These points are that there is a surprisingly high degree of variability across the labs in their reporting, and that when ambiguity apparently existed as to what should be reported as “Total”, the choices made by many labs display a clear bias towards reporting values that are higher than the objective and appropriate norm.

I believe that the following chart does this effectively.

This chart displays the average difference between what was actually reported as TOTAL and what “should” have been reported (per the LCB’s recent direction to the Labs) as THCmax.

This value is reported as an average, per lab, for each of the (up to) 5 quarters each lab has been servicing the Industry.

Values greater than zero imply an “inflation” of reported potency levels for “THC” by the labs.

Values less than zero imply an “under-reporting” of potency levels by the labs.

HIBLOG_Post10_FinChart5_DIFFTotal-THCmaxbylab

 

Four take-aways from this chart:

When bias appears to exist (which is often), it has been overwhelmingly to over-report THC-based potency levels (compared to the THCmax standard).

Some labs (D, G, and J — and to a degree, A, K, and M appear to have been using THCmax all along ….or shortly after dialing in their processes over their first months of operation.

Some labs (N, L, I, H, and E) have been consistently over-reporting Total Potency.

Some labs apparently did not receive (or understand) the recent direction to begin using THCmax (Labs B and C) … either that or they are staffed by anarchistic types that do not appreciate being told how to do their jobs by a quasi-governmental authority.  Lab C, in particular, catches my eye, as their rapidly increasing over-reporting of potency almost suggests that they have been looking at these data and trying to emulate Lab N (which showed increasing over-reporting bias over the first 4 quarters but  rapidly came in-line with LCB direction in the most recent quarter).

This is an odd pattern of results and clearly demonstrates a lack of consistency across labs in what they are reporting.  Until recently, there was apparently no clear mandate (other than what is suggested by the AHP and good science and objectivity) regarding the definition of what, exactly, was required when reporting TOTAL.

With that said and done — I have had many questions from people that basically reduce to “which labs give the highest results”?

I am not going to say that here, as I have no intention of driving business to those whose data suggest that they may be inflating the results that they report.

I do, however, want to get this information out in a way that increases the PRAGUE-ness of reporting by the Labs.  Increased PRAGUE-ness would increase the quality of our cannabis.  It would increase the confidence of current and potential consumers in the quality of the product offered in regulated stores. It would increase the safety of the product being sold in those regulated stores.

There appears to be a vicious circle out there in which labs that report higher potency results (and consistently fail to fail product as often as their peers) tend to have developed a greater share of the testing market.  I am not implying any cause-and-effect here.  I do not know if this is a chicken or if this is an egg (or, frankly, why it crossed and/or rolled across the street).  I do not even know if it has gotten to the other side, or if it ever will.

I welcome your comments and suggestions regarding how best to handle the release of this information with the goal of increasing the validity (and consistency) of results being reported by our Labs going forward.

My initial thoughts involve letting Retailers know about these results (please point any Retailers that you do business with to this blog) and, perhaps, letting them know that I’ll eventually unblind the Labs so that we can all identify our favorite(s) amongst Labs A through N.

That way, the Retailers can apply pressure to the Producer/Processor/Lab consortia in a way that increases the accuracy (and PRAGUE-ness) of the results that are reported and placed on product labels.

In the meanwhile … I know that I’ll be asking which labs conducted the testing for any product that I’m thinking of buying in our regulated stores.  My purchasing decisions will, in no small part, be based on the lab used to describe the product.

Of course, I have the advantage of having seen my report card.  You will, also, if you check back here in a week or two.

In the meanwhile, enjoy your very clean–world’s-most-potent and optimally-dried-bud.

I hope that I have not compromised your illusions as to what is in your bowl too severely.

Happy Holidays to all.

10 Comments

  1. Jason says:

    Once again Dr. Jim, well written and detailed. I’d like to address the low failure rates associated with Foreign Mater or Visual Inspection. First, this is the most basic of tests. Many growers have a 10X scope that they carry with them to eyeball what samples are going to the lab for testing. Often times these samples show up at the lab like little holiday gifts sealed in pretty packages. A simple, and I mean very simple, glance at the sample will let you know if you have too many stems or bugs etc. that would cause a fail. You really don’t need advanced lab equipment to catch the things you can see. It’s the things that you can’t see with a 10x scope or the naked eye that are the cause of many of the fails that get reported to the state (if labs are actually doing the microbial testing to accurately check for the presence of these little critters). Simply, Foreign Matter is a test that is as simple as tying your shoes, especially if you wear loafers. You have to try to fail this one. I am not surprised at all by the low failure rates in this category.

    Secondly, talking about potencies….the scourge of the industry. Clearly as your analysis points out, there are labs completely over reporting potencies and not using the.877 factor when addressing the acid form of THC. Then you have the usual suspects using GC versus HPLC to either not report THC-A or use a backwards calculation to guess at what the acidic value MIGHT be. This is clearly out of 502 compliance, THC-A must be measured and reported. Furthermore, what is going on with this obsession with high THC is ridiculous. I had a gentlemen bring in a sample labeled “White Widow”. The results; THC 13.53% and Terpenes 9.71%. This product is truly amazing, but likely will go into obscurity because the potency isn’t in the abnormally inflated range. What a shame! Another gentlemen brought in a strain that has won Cannabis Cups, but only had a potency of 14% (which is right where that strain should be) and he was crushed because no retailers would buy his product. Shameful!

    Terpenes are critical to good flower, and yet no one seems to care about terpenes. If you don’t know what they are, Google it. Terpenes are as important to cannabis as THC and CBD. Simply terpenes are what give the cannabis its smell and taste and these compounds are what contribute to the “entourage effect”. These terpenes make up the difference between the gorilla panic and a great tasting quality product. I wanted to stand on my soap box and scream about the importance of testing for terpenes, but sadly I figure why bother. Once terpenes start getting tested, or anything for that matter (e.g. pesticides, heavy metals and the like)will just lead to the B.S.ing of just another data set. Ho hum, happy holidays.

    In case the readers are unaware, growers are paid for their product in the wholesale arena by the potencies listed on their lab results. The retailers are very much aware of the lab BS out there. They will tell you though that the consumer won’t buy anything with low potencies, ergo we as end users propagate the BS going ’round and ’round. Didn’t know that? Here is an example of what a grower texted me…”15% and under $3/gram, over 20% $4/gram. The only way retailers judge the weed is by that number. F’d up, but that is the way the cookie crumbles.”

    I’ve also heard retailers state publically that many times they will cap their wholesale purchases for flower at 2.50/gram. In a similar conversation a grower said that he needs to get at least $4.25/gram to stay in business. The retailer told him he better “skinny up” is production or producer will be in big trouble. (Pssssst, indoor growing is very expensive versus outdoor)

    So what does all of this tell you? It corroborates these data that you have analyzed. The THC number is how people make money or don’t make money. If you are honest you are punished. If you are a lab yielding real numbers you are surely on your way out of business, unless enforcement comes to the table. Think about it like this, a 5 lb lot of flower (the max lot size by 502 rules) is made up of 2240 grams. The difference between $3 and $4 a gram is an additional $2,240 per 5lb lot. A lab could be a growers best friend. Hmmm there seems to be an easy way to retain business as a lab, high THC numbers and don’t fail anyone for microbial. As John Lovitz used to say on SNL, “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

    Character is what you are when no one is looking. There are plenty of characters out there, as evidenced by your data crunch.

    Thanks again for your efforts to bring these data into the forefront. I hope that we will see real reform in the near future. Skeptical me says see you in Oregon.

  2. Jason says:

    Ooops, I almost forgot. My vote is for unblinding the lab names. Only then will we as the public have true transparency.

  3. Nick says:

    Jim,

    Having lived this issue for the last year and a half (not just staring at numbers, but actually generating those numbers) I’d like to offer a snippet of my experience regarding the word “Total”.

    While the AHP does describe a conversion factor for comparing cannabinoid measurements obtained through Liquid Chromatography to those obtained through Gas Chromatography, the AHP does not define the word “Total” as THCA*0.877 + THC.

    In the traceability system, when entering values for cannabinoid content, labs are given four text input fields as follows:

    -THC
    -THCA
    -CBD
    -Total

    On June 17th of 2014 I had the honor of entering into the traceability system the results of what BiotrackTHC has called the first QA test in 502. I tested the sample, computed the results, logged onto the traceability online portal and was met for the first time with the four input fields listed above. It was at that point I asked myself: what is “Total”? Does it include CBD? The way it’s laid out it looks like it includes CBD as a total of the three items above, so I called the LCB for clarification. They had to transfer me around for a while (because apparently they weren’t sure either) and eventually I talked to a – now retired – LCB official who told me that “Total” means “Total Cannabinoid”, as in the total amount of cannabinoid resin present in the flower “as it was received”, he said. Now, the language the LCB used to describe “Total” to me on that day meant that it included CBD, and that it did not account for decarboxylation… “as is”, they said, not “after dacarb”.

    Fast forward to February of 2015, all of the labs met at the LCB headquarters to discuss upcoming changes to the rules. One topic of discussion was definition of the word “Total”. The labs didn’t exactly agree on a single particular definition for the word (contrary to the sentiment of your article there are valid arguments in support of other definitions of the word in this context). What the labs did agree on was that a universal definition would be a service to our industry, and we more-or-less left it to the LCB to pick a definition and enforce it. In April, we received their formal definition as Total = THCA*0.877 + THC, and we were told we had until July to implement that in our calculations and reporting.

    I’ll add to this, as one last palm-in-the-face to this entire confusion, the somewhat ridiculous fact that THC and THCA are already required inputs for cannabinoid content. Because these two variables are the only variables used in calculation of the now defined “Total”, asking the labs to input “Total” is redundant. If it’s true, as you say, that some labs still aren’t computing “Total” the way we’ve been instructed to, then the LCB could just remove that input field altogether and compute the value on their end. That would ensure it remains consistent.

    I find it surprising how no one has raised a fuss about the definition of the term “CBD” as it appears above and in the traceability system. Like THC, there are two forms of CBD, and the Acid precursor is the predominant form in flower. Our lab has decided to interpret “CBD” as CBDmax, but there is no official definition per the LCB. We could really use some consistency in this area, too, especially as medical gets wrapped into this same regulation.

    A final note to you, Jim, which kind of throws your whole “Inflation” graph out the window. Some labs, don’t ask me why, report THCA as 0.877*measured-THCA (further illustrating the fact that more than just “Total” needs an official definition in this complex chemistry). Those poor labs are going to look terribly inflationary on your graph, even though they are – in fact – honoring the conversion factor. It’s no wonder, considering such factors as these, that the dataset you have is so easily misinterpreted.

    -Nick

    • Jim says:

      Nick – thank-you for your comments.
      It is very helpful having this history — and will also help as I put together the final version of my report card.
      You have motivated me to make the report card more interactive — one in which different weights can be applied by the user to the different metrics to yield an overall “Grade” for each lab. That way, the “inflating Total vs THCmax” metric can be down-weighted, if desired.

      I do not believe that my “inflation” graph is totally thrown out the window, but one’s interpretation of it might change a bit.

      Thanks again.

  4. Travis says:

    Speaking of foreign matter; early on a Spokane retailer showed me 3 samples, 1 powdery mildew was extant & visible through the package (I know,that’s biological) the other had living spider mites crawling around on the product. I can’t remember the 3rd sample’s contaminant. That retailer had declined to do business w/ those providers. In all fairness, I have yet to find anything in any canna I purchased (which has been “too much.”) But, I recently chose to lay off the stuff. It was really harshing on my throat & congesting my lungs. My own has never bothered me like that.

    funny, I figured QA was “quantitative analysis.” I typically ignore the “total” figure as I have noticed on the labels that it clearly is not consistent. That does not concern me so much as “how is it that a ~16% THCA w/ comparable levels of THC can be more potent in effect than The high 20%s ~even approaching 30%. I’ve considered mechanical e.g. more cannabinoids would be released smoking a dry, airy product than a moist, dense product. But, I believe we should be considering a more diverse array of cannabinoids in our QA ~where I say it there, I’m still thinking quantitative analysis.

    • Jim says:

      I agree, XMO. There is (a lot) more to potency than cannabinoid levels.

      I also agree with MANY comments that I have received that it’s not all that surprising to see so few failures on Foreign Matter.
      (note … I’m going to consider it a “positive” for labs to have failed a product for FM when I put together the report card).

      Also … just to f*** with your head a little, QA is also the internet extension for Qatar.

      Enjoy the Seahawks … and enjoy the Holidays.

  5. Jason says:

    Happy Holidays-

    I just got back to the computer and was again drawn to the blog to see what comments had posted. First, I’d like to address Nick’s comments about the calculation for potency. All that is needed here is a simple concise mandate from LCB on how to report potency, both for THC and CBD, once and for all. I know that there is a potency policy for calculations, but why bother if no one is looking? Use the calculation, don’t use the calculation, bring us a new calculation or whatever. This simplest thing here is that there should be reproducibility between labs. I don’t care what calculation you use, the fact of the matter is that there are so many discrepancies in reporting from lab to lab. The variability make the numbers useless in my opinion, but there are some freakish numbers out there that make me morbidly curious as to what some labs are actually doing, or not doing. Simply stated, if you are a lab that has posted 50%, 60% or 65.8% (the highest number that I have seen from the CTP data dump) total cannabinoid content (TTC) into the traceability system you have HUGE problems. First reporting a 65.8% on flower should trigger an internal lab audit as a flower with that content load would truly be a freak of nature, or as some would call it biologically impossible. Second, if this was reviewed and retested and you still came up with 65.8%, perhaps its time to go back to the microscope and look for foreign matter or adulteration. As an example, we had a retailer bring us a flower sample with results from a certified lab in Washington that had a high TCC. They suspected something was up so they brought it to us and we tested it. The flower sample had a high TCC indeed, but what was missed or deliberately overlooked at the other state certified 502 lab, was that it was ABUNDANTLY clear under the ‘scope that the flower material was matted, greasy and just plain not normal. It actually looked like a glazed doughnut under the microscope. We then ran the flower material on the GC (for residual solvents, not potency because that would be non compliant under 502). The flower sample was laden with solvents, indicating that the Sampler had given the Samplee an adulterated sample. Pssssst……flowers should not have residual solvents, ergo the sample had been dipped in an extract to inflate the potency numbers! Great job, you cheat out there.

    Simply, these inflated numbers are the bane of the industry. The labs are supposed to be part of the QA/QC arm protecting the public. Inflating numbers to help get the producers more money per gram or looking the other way on microbial fails is just plain despicable. Moreover all it does it propagate the lying. The irony is that everyone knows these practices are total BS and subsequently few people trust any labs’ numbers. Dr. Jim’s analysis proves the “anomalies” in the data warrant a further look by the regulators. Hopefully the regulatory bodies will start cracking down on the BS. Does anyone really buy the a flower could have a TTC of 65.8%?

    Second, I wanted to comment on Travis’ post above, ” That does not concern me so much as “how is it that a ~16% THCA w/ comparable levels of THC can be more potent in effect than The high 20%s ~even approaching 30%. I’ve considered mechanical e.g. more cannabinoids would be released smoking a dry, airy product than a moist, dense product. But, I believe we should be considering a more diverse array of cannabinoids in our QA ~where I say it there, I’m still thinking quantitative analysis.” On this post, I would like to hypothesize that the flower that seems more potent at 16% than the flower with the higher numbers could be due to the terpene content of the flower. As I posted in the past I’ll take the flower with 13% THC potency (yes, using the .877 calculation of course, anything else would be reckless)and 9% terpenes. Note to the consumers in the public, DEMAND terpene profiles with the products that you buy. Terpenes are what give the flower its smell and taste. Since you can’t smell your product in the bag/container under 502 regulations, you are forced to rely on the sniff jar (hope it’s fresh)or the terpene data, if it exists. Most importantly, terpenes contribute to the entourage effect. As a community we need to get beyond the crap of high (pun intended) potency numbers and look at the rest of the orchestra of smells and tastes that make up the flower that you purchase. Cannabinoids are odorless. A simple Google search will yield results showing the generally accepted medicinal qualities and effects of terpenes. The terpenes are what draw you to the flower via smell, not a bogus 65.8% TCC, or maybe bogus is what you were looking for. If one is merely looking for B.S. labeling to complete their placebo high, try smoking the label with those attractive numbers on it. I wonder what that tastes like.

    A side note; I wonder how many labs are calling beta myrcene as CBD. It elutes just before CBD and does actually shows up on HPLC analysis. Just food for thought.

    I’m still waiting for the microbial turn around times data. I believe these data will certainly point the finger at those skirting the system. To my knowledge there is no microbial platform, qPCR or other, that can quantitate TAC, RYM etc. qPCR can detect presence or absence of E. Coli and Salmonella, but even this requires at least a 12 hour incubation time. That being stated, how can a lab receive a sample into the 502 traceability system and report out microbial results in less than 48 hours? Samples need to be checked in, inspected, processed for incubation in a media, incubated, go through post incubation quantitation, and be reported out. Typically the fastest a micro data sample set should be able to reported is no sooner than three days post receipt at the lab, not from when the manifest was generated or when the guy from the other side of the state put your samples in his car to make the trip back across the state. Also microbial testing is the most expensive part of 502 testing, if the tests are actually being conducted, if not it’s the cheapest. Take a good look at the pricing menus out there.

    In the end we just need honesty, reproducibility and honesty. Mistakes happen. Lying is deliberate. whatever it is, something just ain’t right out there in the Washington state cannabis testing sector.

    Ask for terpene data on your next purchase! Your nose knows.

    • Jim says:

      Terpenes, schmerpenes.
      If they were important, they would be regulated.

      I hope you all know that I was not just being serious.
      These are serious issues you raise… I will be posting my initial “blinded” lab report card tomorrow on this blog.
      I will not be interpreting it much.
      Just some tables of numbers, broken out for Labs A through N … and some metric definitions …. and a request to the community to comment on patterns they may see in the data that call out one lab or another or a group of them (or not).

      That way, we may all come to know that “Lab X” seems fishy or odd or different or better or worse or somewhat abstract BEFORE WE KNOW WHO LAB X ACTUALLY IS.

      Keeps it less personal, and more objective that way.

      As always, your comments are appreciated. On the lab report card, they will be crucial. I’m effectively going to be crowd-sourcing interpretation of the Metrics in the Report Card, of the Report Card, and of the blinded labs described by the Report Card.

      Go Hawks!

  6. Jim your blog has me just tickled pink… you and your data could not have stepped into this industry at a better time… regulation seems sometimes in name only and attention to what you have aptly shown might indeed get the regulators to better do their job. FINALLY A RING TEST OF SORTS.
    I don’t believe the regular user (the 20% who will consume 80% of the product – a la Paretos’ Principle) is confused about the numbers game, quality and potential contaminant issue with Washington legal product – I believe that’s why sales has gone flatish – perception is we’re being played. The BOTEC driven central planning hasn’t helped.
    LOVE your blog…

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