Marijuana is significantly more potent today than it was 30 years ago. Cannabis cultivators have been able to increase the THC percentage in cannabis strains through technology innovation and cross pollination.
Recently, researchers performed studies on the marijuana sold out of Colorado and their findings were shocking. In some of the samples, the scientists found traces of butane, heavy metals, and fungus.
How is Colorado handling this?
Colorado began to enforce mandatory testing for potency in May 2014. A few months later they began to enforce testing for consistency. Charas Scientific is a certified testing lab in Colorado that tests marijuana samples that are submitted by retailers.
The facility ran a number of tests on different strains of marijuana and found that there was only a slight chemical difference among samples. Researchers also found that the levels of THC ranged from 20% to 30 % percent. 30 years ago marijuana averaged 10% THC.
Testing for contaminants is not required
Colorado does not require tests to be performed on marijuana for contaminants, but some companies have volunteered their products for such testing. Although, none of the contaminants were found to pose a serious health risk, the findings raised questions about what is being sold to the public and if such contaminants could be harmful.
Mary Meek, director of business development at Charas, said that some of the samples had levels that are acceptable for grocery store produce. “But right now [the testing] is not in effect for marijuana, so you don’t really know how dirty or clean your product is right now.”
Marijuana edible products have problems as well. Researchers at Charas found E. coli, not a hazardous form, and salmonella in some samples. Denver is the only municipality in Colorado where health inspectors monitor edible marijuana products.
Meek said that type of contamination is “rare.”
Contaminant testing on the horizon
It is only a matter of time before Colorado starts to enforce mandatory testing for contaminants. Once contaminant testing is enforced, marijuana dispensaries will be required to test for molds, mildew, herbicides, fungicides, and other harmful substances. The dispensaries will be required to include this information on labels.
Once this type of testing is enforced, demand for testing services will skyrocket and this will create significant opportunities for companies that provide such services.
Which companies could benefit from contaminant testing?
CannLabs, Inc. (CANL): CannLabs is based out of Denver and provides cloud-based analytics and scientific methods to serve the cannabis industry in the United States and Canada. Through its subsidiary, the company provides laboratories with the necessary business intelligence technology and other solutions for cannabis testing. CannLabs also offers consulting and educational services to companies.
Pazoo, Inc., (PZOO): PZOO recently acquired a 40% equity stake in MA & Associates, LLC, a marijuana testing lab in Nevada. The company also purchased a 100% controlling stake in Harris Lee, LLC, another marijuana testing company, to expand its marijuana testing business into other states and possibly Canada.
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