A recent study found that the THC potency of marijuana products sold in Colorado's dispensaries is lower than what is advertised on label packaging. THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, is a significant factor for consumers when choosing which marijuana product to buy and the price they are willing to pay. However, the study, published in the PLOS One journal on April 12, suggests that the THC potency labeled on marijuana products' packaging in Colorado might not be accurate.
Researchers from the University of Northern Colorado conducted the study to determine whether the THC potency advertised on marijuana product labels was accurate. Their findings indicate that the majority of marijuana products they analyzed and purchased from Colorado's dispensaries had a lower THC potency than those stated on the product labels. The study points to "a lack of standard testing protocols, limited oversight, and financial incentives to market high THC potency." as significant factors contributing to these discrepancies.
To carry out the study, the authors purchased 23 marijuana flower samples from ten licensed dispensaries in Colorado, representing 12 different strains. The samples were then sent for analysis to a third-party lab, Mile High Labs, which utilized high-performance liquid chromatography to determine the THC potency of each sample.
Mile High Labs is a reputable, independent laboratory specializing in cannabis testing. They use state-of-the-art equipment and adhere to strict quality control measures, ensuring accurate results. Their use of high-performance liquid chromatography, a widely accepted method for analyzing cannabinoids, further lends credibility to the findings of the University of Northern Colorado study.
The results of the study reveal that 18 of the 23 samples (78.26%) had a lower THC potency than the lowest value reported on the label. The average actual amount of THC was found to be 14.98%, while the labeled amount was 20.27% for the low range and 24.10% for the high range.
Additionally, the study found that 16 out of 23 samples (69.56%) had a THC potency that was more than 15% lower than the lowest reported THC potency, and 13 of those samples (56.52%) had a THC potency that was more than 30% lower than the labeled value. When examining the highest THC potency claimed on the labels, 20 out of 23 samples (86.95%) had a THC potency more than 15% lower than the highest reported value, with 18 of those samples (78.26%) being more than 30% lower.
"Our results demonstrate that there are substantial, statistically significant differences between THC % by dry weight (hereafter THC potency) reported on consumer labels and our observed test results,"
These findings raise concerns for both consumers and the marijuana industry in Colorado. Consumers who rely on THC potency information to make informed decisions about the products they purchase may not be getting what they expect. This could lead to dissatisfaction with the products and a loss of trust in the industry.
The discrepancies in THC potency labeling also point to a need for increased regulatory oversight and standardized testing protocols. Ensuring that products are accurately labeled with their THC content would not only help consumers make informed decisions but could also help to maintain the integrity of the marijuana industry in Colorado.
In light of these findings, it is recommended that further research be conducted to determine whether this issue is unique to Colorado or if it is pervasive throughout the marijuana industry in the United States. As more states legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, accurate labeling of THC potency will become increasingly important for consumer safety and satisfaction.