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@JohnOldschool on THC Testing

By Lolly Cannabis on March 01, 2023 - Filed under 

THC Testing is up in smoke.

For what it’s worth?

I’ve religiously trampled all over these test results to people in pursuit of a good cannabis experience. It is the most common question we get now. What used to be requested with a generic “what’s the best stuff you have” has been replaced by “the highest THC stuff.”  And this folks, is one of the ways getting “custied” happens in these shops.

A few points before I begin. From being told by a representative of a large LP that the company “rounds up” their year-old THC tests to seeing legal flower waiting to go to market curing in garbage bags and plastic totes — this was plenty of ammunition for me to do my best to inform people and steer them away from buying based solely on these test results. But I’m a curious individual so to further reinforce my convictions on these tests I dug a little deeper – and although I still don’t do my purchasing based on these tests, I do understand what makes them so important especially in these “Ontarislow” market conditions.

So... here’s the thing... just like the fruits and veggies you buy weekly and put in special humidity-controlled compartments in your fridge, cannabis has a shelf life that can be optimized or completely ruined by its storage conditions. In my hunt for specific answers, I found two studies that looked at THC degradation at 20 degrees celsius for a period of 100 days and 4 months. The mean avg was 2-5% loss in THC per month. Let’s put some context to that for a second – let’s say your favorite bag or jar takes 3 months (being generous here unfortunately) to get into your excited wee hands. Assuming it’s not mid-summer or winter and the transportation/storage conditions are less likely to be in flux. It potentially has lost anywhere from 6-15% of its THC. It tested 30%THC a week or so after harvest and is now more likely to be sitting at 15-24%. I should also mention that the whole lot may have been tested multiple times looking for high outlier numbers and not representative of the whole lot avg THC at all!

So, WTF are they good for??? Now that we have a better idea that what we may actually be getting isn’t necessarily what’s advertised, we can minimize the risk of spending money on weed we still can’t smell or see before buying.

As someone who grows, the genetic potential of a plant’s ability to produce THC is important to me for cultivars I want to keep to grow again or breed with. As a retailer/consumer these numbers are important because one of the costs of regulation is the time it takes for these products to survive getting to consumers. Let’s take the same generous 3-month scenario and apply it to a 20% Lot that could now be sitting at 5-14% THC and you’ll notice I haven’t even touched on terpenes! Saving that for another day 😉

What can a consumer do to get the best experience when faced with decoding these numbers?

A)     Find a retailer who works with brands like Maricann who have harvest dates on their flower or LP’s like Carmel Cannabis who don’t fish for THC tests and are moving through product quickly enough that THC and terpene degradation is less of an issue.

B)     If your retailer of choice can’t find a harvest date, ask them about the terpene test results. There are some similar challenges with these results as well but its super important as the terpenes shape the effect of your experience.

A safe rule of thumb here can be when you get high THC and terpene results on a pack you can’t see or smell before buying, you’re more likely to be slipping into a favorable cannabis experience.