In the era of cannabis regulation, lab tests have become all important to the market. Many states require that retail cannabis be labeled with its THC potency as tested by licensed lab facility.

THC potency can largely determine how much consumers will pay for a product and whether retailers even choose to carry the product at all. Basically: high potency equals high consumers equals high market viability.

All that means that cannabis cultivators and manufacturers depend on their test results for the future of their business. But many suspect the legitimacy and consistency of testing facilities.

To look into the issue, High Times recently conducted a little lab experiment of its own. The publication took a batch of Bruce Banner bud, split it into six identical samples, and sent each sample to a different licensed cannabis testing facility in Oregon. The results were deeply inconsistent:

  • Lab 1: 20.40% THC, 24.59% total cannabinoids
  • Lab 2: 22.90% THC, 25.70% total cannabinoids
  • Lab 3: 24.84% THC, 28.26% total cannabinoids
  • Lab 4: 26.18% THC, 30.73% total cannabinoids
  • Lab 5: 26.20% THC, 29.30% total cannabinoids
  • Lab 6: 30.50% THC, 35.00% total cannabinoids

The dollar value of a product with 20.40% THC versus one with 30.50% is night and day. Even more troublingly, if producers think that their lab results are wrong, they have little to no recourse to correct their potency.

In Oregon, lab results are final and cannot be appealed. Furthermore, cultivators are not allowed to send samples from the same 15 pound batch to multiple facilities and then pick the results they like the best. In order for High Times to even conduct their study legally, they had to label their samples “not for use.”

Since Oregon requires that THC content be tested by an accredited facility, that means that whatever the lab says, even if they’re wrong, the grower has to just live with it. At least for now.

Photo via Flickr user CircaSassy