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Chocolate Complicates Marijuana Edibles Potency Testing, Scientists Find



Scientists recently discovered that there’s something about chocolate that can botch the potency testing of marijuana edibles.

In research presented at one of the world’s largest scientific conferences on Sunday, the study’s principle investigator David Dawson found that THC potency testing for cannabis edibles can be significantly impacted when the product contains chocolate. That finding has implications for regulators, manufacturers and consumers.

“My research focuses on cannabis potency testing because of the high stakes associated with it,” Dawson said in a press release ahead of the American Chemical Society conference.

He cited a California law stipulating that edible marijuana products that test 10 percent below what’s indicated on the label must be relabeled and said “it’s even worse if a product tests 10 percent or more above the labeled amount—then the entire batch must be destroyed.”

One of the most surprising findings from the experiment is that when it comes to chocolate marijuana edible potency testing, less appears to be more. That’s to say, when testing a vial of an edible that contains one gram of chocolate, the tests produced “more precise values than when we had two grams of the same infused chocolate in the vial.”

“This goes against what I would consider basic statistical representation of samples, where one would assume that the more sample you have, the more representative it is of the whole,” Dawson, of CW Analytical Laboratories, said.

“Simply changing how much sample is in the vial could determine whether a sample passes or fails, which could have a huge impact on the producer of the chocolate bars, as well as the customer who might be under- or overdosing because of this weird quirk of matrix effects.”

It’s not yet clear what about chocolate is complicating THC potency testing, but Dawson said that the fat content of the ingredient is likely a main factor, especially considering that THC is fat soluble. And because of that, the research will likely have implications for edibles that aren’t chocolate based, and possibly even products such as topical lotions.

Next steps for Dawson and other researchers include determining whether similar trends exist for other cannabinioids such as CBD. Given that the Food and Drug Administration is actively exploring regulations to allow hemp-derived CBD to the food supply and would be charged with ensuring quality control standards, the findings could prove relevant on the federal level, too.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr/jeffreyw.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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