The market for cannabis products, both recreational and medical, continues to rise, and with this growth comes the need to test these products to ensure accuracy in chemistry and safety for consumers. Testing and analyzing cannabis products is not new to the industry, but as more people consume cannabis products and more companies strive to differentiate themselves in a crowded space, there is a current need for these tests to be advanced in design and accurate (valid) in assessment.
Accurate test results on cannabis products are important for a variety of reasons. A valid analysis of cannabis flower or extracts can reveal potency of different cannabinoid percentages, check for any impurities due to pesticides or other chemical contaminants, and reveal if a test batch has any evidence of mold or similar biological toxins. These test results can ensure a harvest of flower or batch of extract is safe for consumption while also revealing cannabinoid and terpene profiles that can impact how the products are used for medical conditions or personal preference.
There is not an exact set of testing requirements across the board for cannabis products, and each state or country that allows medical and/or recreational cannabis use has its own set of testing regulations. Most states that have legalized recreational use have defined testing regulations that also apply to the medical side and hold both forms of sale to the same testing standards. Some states, such as California, have very strict testing requirements that cover numerous factors to ensure quality, potency, and safety. Others, such as Arizona, have not yet implemented any specific testing requirements.
While it is a growing trend in the industry to test cannabis products, it is still not a practice required everywhere, and consumers should be aware of and ask for test results as a general rule when purchasing cannabis, especially medical products. Any differences in testing validity between recreational and medical cannabis products seem to be due to the scope and capability of the testing facility and are not specific to the cannabis grown or produced for these markets.  As cannabis testing becomes more widespread and in demand, it will lead to better quality control of all products offered for any type of use.
A look at state-by-state testing requirements can be found here.
- Jikomes, Nick, and Michael Zoorob. “The Cannabinoid Content of Legal Cannabis in Washington State Varies Systematically Across Testing Facilities and Popular Consumer Products.” Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, 2018, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-22755-2. [Journal Impact Factor = 4.525, Times Cited = 13 (ResearchGate)]
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