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Cannabis Testing Labs Audited in Alaska

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Cara Wietstock
Written by Cara Wietstock

Two potency results from the same product tested in different Alaska labs have conflicting results, causing an audit by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Health Laboratory.

Last month, the Alaska Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) bought separately packaged four-gram lots of two types cannabis flowers from the same dispensary. They then brought the samples directly to Alaska’s two operating cannabis testing labs. Steep Hill Alaska and Canntest revealed very different potency results, revealing a larger problem with testing in the most northwestern of the United States.

The audit was recommended by the director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office Erika McConnell. Before the audit, a public service announcement was distributed throughout Alaska by The Marijuana Control Board. The announcement warned citizens about the testing discrepancies, urging them to use caution when dosing out medical cannabis products until the audit is complete.

When it comes to the deviating potency results both testing labs were given two samples which were purchased from the same store, from the same lot. Steep Hill Alaska brought back 16.2% THC and CannTest revealed 21.73% THC on the Eskimo Bubble Gum. When testing Paradise Nebula cannabis strain reported 12.1% THC from Steep Hill and Canntest brought back 11.28% THC.

cannabis testing labs

These varying results, which have been deemed a “significant deviation” by McConnell, could be due to their potency testing methods or even equipment calibration and maintenance. Also, cannabis is an exceptionally complex organic plant. The flower that buds from the top of the plant is thought to have a higher potency than the buds growing on the bottom of the main stalk. Therefore, two samples tested from the same plant could have varying potency levels.

Each state has dealt with their own batch of issues when it comes to setting up testing labs. The silver lining in this story is that Alaska is that the governing bodies in the state are aware and learning how to solve the complicated problem at hand.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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1 Comment

  • Considering that the typical variation across a batch of cannabis is about 3-5% plus or minus from the average THC content this is a sensationalist interpretation of these results. The auditors seem to be clueless about basic statistics or what is considered normal variation in a plant. Not to mention you can’t use two samples to determine a “significant deviation”. The paradise bubble results are extremely close when you consider this variation. The eskimo bubble gum is a bit high different but it might have more to do with sampling variation rather then analytical (lab) variation. Such ignorance on the part of regulators and the people interpreting these results.

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