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Medical Pot's Potency Difficult to Pin Down for Colorado Dispensaries

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When the results came back from the lab, Ean Seeb, an owner of the medical-marijuana dispensary Denver Relief, had every reason to be thrilled.

One of the store's most prized marijuana strains had tested at 29 percent THC – the psychoactive component of marijuana – a result that seemed to confirm the strain's formidable punch.

But, for Seeb, the number also seemed to confirm another hunch: There's something screwy with medical-marijuana potency testing in Colorado.

"We have one of the highest tests ever that was performed at one of these labs," Seeb said, "and we don't believe it."

That's because, a year earlier, the same lab had tested a sample of the strain – from a different plant but grown using the same methods – at a more pedestrian 15 percent THC. And tests of the strain at other medical-marijuana testing labs in the state produced results across the map.

In dispensaries around Colorado, questions have emerged about the value of the measurements the labs produce – measurements that have been hailed as key to bringing scientific precision to medical marijuana.

No one – including Seeb – is abandoning the goal of a system that provides detailed analysis of a strain's potency and chemical makeup, which medical-marijuana advocates say will help patients make better-informed decisions. But dispensary owners and patients have begun to note that the current system is less than perfect.

"We're not using the same standards from lab to lab," said Frank Quattrone, the owner of Pure Medical Dispensary in Denver and a supporter of testing.

Different techniques among the state's four labs account for only part of the variations, said Buckie Minor of Full Spectrum Labs, the state's first cannabis-testing lab. Potency can vary within marijuana crops, individual plants and even between subsections of the buds.

What shouldn't change, Minor said, is the ratio of the different chemicals in the plant, which Minor said is most important for patients picking strains.

"When people get different potency values, they start to think our testing methods are off," he said.

The debate comes as state lawmakers are poised to give legitimacy to medical-marijuana testing labs. A provision in House Bill 1043, which adjusts several medical-marijuana laws, gives explicit permission for dispensaries to provide samples to labs for testing.

"We're actually creating a research and development piece that's the first of any state," Rep. Tom Massey, the Poncha Springs Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said during a debate last week.

The subject is likely to get more attention this week, when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, holds its annual conference in Denver. Among the panels scheduled for the conference is one titled, "Medical marijuana: It's not just THC."

That panel features a representative from a testing lab in California, where a handful of labs recently announced the formation of a trade group to create standardized practices.

"The testing methodology should all be the same," said Robert Martin, a founder of the Association of California Cannabis Laboratories. ". . . People will lose faith in the industry if they can't depend on the results."

Seeb said he would like to see a similar association started here. Until then, he said, he will continue to harbor suspicions about the test results, no matter how impressive they are.

"We recognize the importance of (testing) and we want it," he said. "It just isn't there yet."


News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: denverpost.com
Author: John Ingold
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: The Denver Post
Website: Medical pot's potency difficult to pin down for Colorado dispensaries
 

GreenZombie

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While I have seen the effects of this first hand, my preferred dispensary recently stopped showing test results simply because they are all over the place and have proven to be somewhat unreliable, I have a sneaking suspicion they had another motive behind the move.

They have a website which has a real-time menu of their current inventory, which used to show the test results. I would watch strains come in, go up on the menu before the results came back at AAA prices, then once the results came back at anything under 15-20% THC, the price would drop and it would sit on the menu for weeks. Meanwhile anything coming in at 20% or higher flies off the shelf in hours.

They are trying to sell their product, and the numbers may be making that hard for certain strains simply because everyone seems so focused on a huge THC percentage. I would also imagine more than a few patients were pissed when they paid top price for a strain the day before only to see the numbers come back low and the price drop drastically.

I have never trusted the numbers personally, the labs have not had time to find the best method for testing yet, much less figured out exactly what the numbers they end up with even means. While I understand the need for testing for certain patients, like those with immunity disorders, personally I try new strains out by the gram, if I like it, I'll try it again, if not, I won't. I don't need a lab for that. :smokin:
 
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