The findings, presented this afternoon at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, hope to provide new standards for the expanding retail cannabis industry.
“Producers of cannabis edibles complain that if they send off their product to three different labs for analysis, they get three different results,” said Melissa Wilcox from Grace Discovery Sciences. “The point of our work is to create a solid method that will accurately and reliably measure the cannabis content in these products.”
Researchers said that only 17 per cent of edibles they tested accurately labelled the THC and CBD content contained in them, an important factor for users who prefer to use edibles over smoking cannabis.
“It’s a lot easier for an individual to control their dose when smoking,” Wilcox said. “The effects of edibles can take a while to happen. You eat them, and then wait to see how you feel in an hour or two. If you ingested too much, you could be in for an unexpectedly bad experience.”
Currently, most edibles are analyzed using a high performance liquid chromatograph, but researchers said that these machines were never deigned to be used with cannabis edibles.
“The sugars, starches and fats will wreak havoc on HPLC equipment. They can really muck up the works and lead to inaccurate results,” said Americans for Safe Access cannabis vice-chair Jahan Marcu.
The new technique yields more accurate and reliable measurements than the current method and Marcu said the next stage is to install the equipment in commercial labs and train technicians to use it.