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The growth of the marijuana industry has spurred the growth of private testing labs in states like Colorado and Washington. These labs are testing for potency of THC and CBD to measure the potency and medicinal value of today’s legal cannabis. The labs are also looking for contaminants such as bacteria, fungi, and leftover pesticides that can sometimes reside in flowers, edibles, and concentrates. These tests are often mandated to ensure safe products are sold to consumers in a flourishing and ever-expanding legal cannabis market. Before flowers and edibles hit the dispensary shelves, each batch is carefully tested for contaminants and common bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

One lab in Colorado, Charas Scientific, has tested over 600 strains and have found the THC potency in some to be as high as 30 percent, markedly higher than 30 years ago. The high levels of THC are more desirable for consumers as it gives a more intense and gratifying high. With the majority of growers gunning for increasingly high THC levels, the medicinal properties of CBD in plants has been largely neglected other than a few choice strains. The high THC level is what gets users high, but the CBD level is what gives users medical relief from a range of ills.

Charas Scientific’s findings of CBD levels were close to non-existent in many of the strains that passed through. The consequence of low CBD levels leaves some medical marijuana patients missing out on the comforting effects for their burdensome aliments. The importance of cannabis testing is to correctly lead their consumers to the right purchase with accurate information of each product and the effects intended for consumer use.  Previous to the required testing, sellers have been unknowingly misleading buyers about CBD levels.

Marijuana contains bacteria and fungus just like any other living organism. It’s to be expected that a natural product has microbes, but scientists are concerned with the question of how much is too much in terms of consuming microbes, especially if smoked. Bacteria and fungus, however, are not the only contaminants found among marijuana buds. Charas Scientific has also found small traces of butane, a toxic gas that is used to extract THC from cannabis for making various products like wax.

The future of cannabis testing could look very similar to practices currently being used by the FDA. As testing for quality becomes more widespread, scientists will be able to gauge the safe threshold of contaminants as well as  look at the effects of smoking versus ingesting cannabis.

Tighter testing regulation are likely to improve the industry with more accurate testing information and safer products on store shelves. The states of Colorado and Washington are the self-designated guinea pigs for industry regulations and standards and are leading the newly legal industry in the right direction for safer consumption practices.

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