THC Inflation and Lab Shopping plague the Cannabis Industry

C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE


Moving the needle on legalization, the cannabis industry has seen significant growth in the past year. However, this growth has had its dampeners, such as THC potency inflation and rampant lab shopping. The misconception among consumers that higher THC alone is responsible for stronger effects results in high-THC products commanding a premium. This encourages corrupt labs to inflate THC numbers. Unethical producers flock to such labs, while the labs that report actual results lose out on business. The practice is undermining consumer confidence and the industry's integrity. A loophole that corrupt labs exploit is the absence of an industry standard for testing. Labs use different processes and equipment, delivering different results. Dishonest labs take advantage of this and report inflated THC numbers. Furthermore, the scope for manual intervention allows corrupt labs to falsify results and hoodwink regulators. These gaps must be closed to arrest THC potency inflation. Firstly, the industry needs a universal standard for testing. Additionally, the same samples should be tested in different labs, and outliers identified. States should then take swift action against labs that publish inflated numbers. Secondly, there’s a need for dispelling the misplaced notion that higher THC alone is a true indicator of potency. Thirdly, labs must get accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 to demonstrate their competency to produce reliable results and adopt a LIMS to automate their processes by integration with analytical instruments, eliminating manual manipulation of results. By using a LIMS, customers can also be empowered to match the composition reported on the product label with the original CoA, helping boost consumer confidence.

Learning Objectives:

1. Discuss what THC inflation and lab shopping are.

2. Explain how THC inflation harm labs, consumers, patients, and the industry.

3. Discuss how THC inflation and lab shopping can be prevented, and how a LIMS help in doing so.

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