As accurate and advanced as marijuana lab testing has become over the years, there are still some kinks to work out in the new systems. Since legalization and the regulation of legally sold products is still relatively fresh – the industry is uncovering new hurdles and figuring out its intricacies as time progresses.
The latest bump in the testing road comes from potency testing edibles that specifically contain chocolate. While potency testing is arguably one of the most debated tests on the market, now testing experts are finding that chocolate could skew results even more. So, what’s up with chocolate and its challenges to edible potency testing? Here, we’ll answer that question and more as we explore the topic in-depth.
Edible Testing for Potency
California testing laboratories and facilities nationwide are treated to knowing the latest cannabis-infused products before they hit the shelves. From protein powders to transdermal patches, potency testing is vital, especially in new products and delivery methods. A potency test accurately measures how much THC and other cannabinoids are in the final product, so consumers can [hopefully] have an idea of the product’s overall strength.
However, these products’ innovative nature is bringing some probing questions – is potency affected when infused with other ingredients, how so, and which ones? Again, since the cannabis industry as a whole is still in its infancy, experts in the testing community are slowly but surely uncovering new research and meaningful answers and insights for consumer safety.
How Chocolate Affects Potency Testing
What’s difficult for edible testing as a whole, especially with chocolate bars – is the total amount of cannabinoids contained in the bar versus an individual serving. Since cannabis testing facilities are testing a sample of the chocolate to determine potency, it’s difficult or nearly impossible to decipher whether THC and cannabinoids are evenly distributed or not.
But another reason why there’s a new microscope on potency testing in chocolates is a recent discovery about the ingredient and accurate results. A 2019 study was recently released stating that the presence of chocolate in a testing sample may suppress the detectable signal for THC. This is similar to a testing phenomenon that’s known as the ‘matrix effect.’
In the cannabis testing world, the ‘matrix’ is more than just a hit movie. It refers to the levels of ingredients that testing mechanisms must navigate to isolate and analyze another. When it comes to chocolate edibles, the matrix includes the actual chocolate and its fats, the flavoring, the sugars, and other ingredients. These layers are stripped down to the very minimal for testing until the leftover cannabinoids can be singularly detected and analyzed.
Now back to the difficulty of sample sizes when testing. The study found that the amount of sample taken for testing purposes could have affected the overall results. Meaning, smaller samples would produce a higher THC level, while larger samples would produce a lower THC level. In fact, the researchers concluded that “one-gram” [samples] will always give higher values than two grams.”
Addressing Chocolate Challenges
For now, the fluctuations in chocolate marijuana edibles potency aren’t life-changing or dangerous to the end consumer. Overall, the variances in THC potency weren’t significant enough to cause any harm or incite a ‘public health threat.’ Instead, it just has researchers and testers alike scrambling for an answer to conclusively find out what causes the difference in testing. However, what does complicate things for edible chocolate manufacturers in the labeling regulations set by each state.
In California, a brand can be fined or penalized if the actual product contains more or less MG’s of THC than the labeled or advertised edibles strength. Although there is some leeway in the restriction, allowing the test to vary within 10% of the labeled THC amount. If the product tests lower than the labeled percentage – it can simply be relabeled. But, if the product tests higher than the labeled percentage – the entire batch must be taken off the shelves.
The researchers of the 2020 study hypothesize that the fats found in chocolate are skewing results since THC dissolves rapidly in lipids. Early findings point to this to be true, with results showing dark and milk chocolate (42% fat content) interferes more greatly with THC signaling than cacao powder (25% fat content). If this conclusion is continually tested and proven correct, it could open new doors to questions regarding the testing of other edibles that are also high in fat content.
Accurately Testing Chocolate Edibles For Potency
Currently, knowing is half the battle for testing chocolate edibles accurately for potency. Now that cannabis testing labs are aware of the anomaly of testing chocolate for THC and other cannabinoids – they can best formulate ways to improve reliable results. In the meantime, testing experts are on the case of figuring out analytical interferences and how to overcome them.
At LabPlex, we’re always ahead of the game with our advanced team of testing experts and state-of-the-art lab equipment. With a trusted, reliable cannabis testing facility, California brands can be confident their marijuana edibles dosage labels and packaging are within an acceptable range – for the sake of consumer safety, compliance, and brand reputation.
Schedule your cannabis potency test, or choose from our entire collection of testing services for compliance or quality assurance/R&D purposes, now. Choose LabPlex as your all-in-one cannabis testing solution.