In Canada, many legal cannabis products are inaccurately claiming higher THC and CBD content than they actually contain, with some products testing at up to 20% less THC than stated. The lack of standardized testing methods and governmental oversight has led to these discrepancies, causing concerns among industry members and leading to calls for more consistent testing protocols.
In Canada, many legal cannabis-based products overstate their THC and CBD content. Multiple studies, including those conducted by two laboratories and a cannabis producer, show a significant discrepancy between label claims and actual potency, with some products containing up to 20% less THC than advertised.
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Concerns from Industry Experts
This misleading representation of THC and CBD potency has raised concerns among industry experts. Borna Zlamalik, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Research & Development at OrganiGram Holdings Inc. in Moncton, New Brunswick, asserts that some cannabis companies intentionally manipulate their sampling procedures to present their products in the best light possible.
THC and CBD Testing Methods and Government Oversight Lacking
The lack of standardized THC and CBD level testing methods and governmental oversight has contributed to this issue.
Critics argue that producers selectively sample and process products, meaning they don’t accurately represent entire batches. There are also allegations of fraudulent testing techniques used by some cannabis analysis companies to inflate THC and CBD results.
Health Canada’s Response to Inflated THC and CBD Claims
Health Canada has acknowledged these concerns regarding THC and CBD claims and is looking into complaints about inaccurate labeling. In July, they initiated a data collection program to compare product results with potency claims, promising compliance and enforcement actions if needed to mitigate health and safety risks.
Rising Competition and Market Saturation
The problem has intensified over recent years, with cannabis producers and labs vying for the market in an oversaturated environment. Customers increasingly rely on price and THC and CBD potency to differentiate, leading to a rise in the average potency of products.
This trend has caused financial losses for companies like OrganiGram, as consumers opt for competitor products with higher advertised potency.
Independent THC and CBD Lab Findings
Supra Research and Development, a testing lab based in Kelowna, tested 46 dried flower-based products for THC and CBD and found that none met their advertised rates, with most products being more than 20% lower in content.
A similar test by High North Labs in Vaughan, Ontario, showed that no product met its stated THC and CBD potency, with most being at least 5% below the claimed amount.
Calls for Standardized THC and CBD Testing
These discrepancies have prompted calls for standardized testing protocols within the industry to ensure accuracy and consistency. Health Canada is already considering setting THC and CBD variability limits for dried cannabis, similar to current standards for extractions, cannabis-infused cosmetics, or edibles.
Findings in the United States
In the United States, academic research has confirmed claims of THC and CBD content inflation, with 80% of cannabis product labels overestimating THC and CBD content by at least 15% in some cases.
Michigan’s cannabis regulatory authority has initiated audits on products containing more than 28% total THC, while the state of Washington has shut down labs that produced exaggerated THC and CBD results.
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