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Summary and opinion by John Fouts.
With the legal markets of cannabis buzzing with rapid growth, and many areas struggling to keep a steady supply of quality plant material available based on unprecedented levels of demand, safety is a concern that needs to be addressed at every level. Dr. Andy LaFrate of Charas Scientific in Denver, CO uses liquid chromatography testing to determine mold, heavy metal, and pesticide content of samples. In an interview with Smithsonian.com, he said, “It’s pretty startling just how dirty a lot of this stuff is.”
With a gap in the industry needing to be filled, entrepreneurs have a chance to step up to the plate and help ensure safety of consumers, and to facilitate protection within the industry both in terms of end users, and all businesses and groups along the supply chain.
Business minded individuals and companies have a great opportunity to fill the need for improved testing in terms of safety and quality.
My Opinion: The balance between safety and privacy is difficult to determine in many contexts. In the new legal era of cannabis, it is important to protect users of all cannabis related products, but to also ensure there is not too much over-regulation that interferes with a company’s ability to conduct reasonable business. I foresee this becoming an even larger issue in the future. For now, I am glad to know there are companies out there testing for ‘dirty’ products, and advocating for protecting consumers. As an entrepreneur, I also see the gaping hole in the market in terms of opportunity related to the area of safety.
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In states where edibles are available for the public to consume in terms of either legal recreational or medicinal marijuana, a labeling issue has been causing some headaches. Many edibles do not have accurate information listed on the label in terms of THC content. Edible companies have stated they have concerns because when they send the products off to be tested, often varying results are obtained by different labs doing the testing. Because of this, a new testing method has been developed.
Commonly edibles have been tested with high performance liquid chromatography, but the machines that do this test were not developed with edible marijuana products in mind as the input. A special process has been developed where edibles are ground up with dry ice or liquid Nitrogen, then diatomaceous earth is added. Using flash chromatography then allows certain products to be pulled out. After that, the high performance liquid chromatography can then be used to derive accurate results.