Part Four – Product Testing
In our five part series, ‘Creating Careful Cannabis Consumers’, Cashinbis intends to highlight Cannabis safety by pointing out ways in which the industry, as well as the general public, can promote the responsible use of Cannabis. In doing this we aim to proactively jump start the conversation about Cannabis safety and how the average person can pitch in. The fourth installment of our five part series focuses on product testing, because how can you be a careful cannabis consumer if you don’t know what you are consuming? To help us break down the state of cannabis testing we’ve called upon the services of CEO Ryan Treacy and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand of C4 Laboratories. C4 Laboratories is a botanical testing facility specializing in cannabis medicine, providing scientific based results to help ensure the purity and safety of cannabis medicine for the patients of Arizona.
“Proper testing and labeling needs to be conducted. The cannabis industry is literally providing medicine for patients. Dispensaries in particular need to become more invested in product testing to insure the safety of everyone involved.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
What is cannabis being tested for?
The Usual Suspects
While there are over a hundred different cannabinoids associated with cannabis, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) remain the top two interests for lab testing as they have the greatest influence on the overall quality of the product. Broken down into more simple terms, THC is the side that provides the high, whereas CBD is known for its health applications.
“People often misunderstand cannabis and label it under two broad, wide ranging categories, indica and sativa. In reality there are countless factors that go into each individual strain’s effect on the human system. We’re doing that research because we don’t want the medical consumer to find a successful treatment solution every once in a while, we want them to find that solution the first time. Every time.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Trending Terpene Testing
In addition to THC and CBD testing, scientists are now looking at flavoring agents in cannabis, called terpenes. Terpene compounds provide the lovely smell and flavor of cannabis. Not only that, but certain combinations of cannabinoids (THC,CBD) and terpenes lead to a much greater finished product.
“We’re finding that these terpene compounds have a tremendous amount of therapeutic value. When partnered with the proper cannabinoids, they elicit positive synergistic effects, otherwise known as the entourage effect. This combination provides a much greater response than if they are separated.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Not All Sunshine and Rainbows
So far we’ve covered the compounds that have a positive impact on your overall cannabis experience. Now let’s go over the things to avoid. One of the least understood aspects to cannabis consumption has nothing to do with the organics of the plant at all. Various processes and chemicals, introduced during the cultivation cycle, are something that every safe cannabis consumer needs to be aware of. For instance, earlier this year Denver, CO. put cannabis sales on hold due to the use of an unregulated pesticide that was applied to plants.
“Not knowing what is in your cannabis is like trying to treat a headache or stomach pain by going to Walgreens and sticking your hand in a barrel filled with 20lbs of pills. Chances are slim you find exactly what you are looking for.”- Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Cultivators commonly apply pesticides, fungicides or growth stimulants during the growing process and, while many are working within the bounds of regulation, only proper testing can insure that the end product is exactly what it claims to be.
“We want people to not only use cannabis that is free from harmful chemical compounds, but to use cannabis in an intelligent fashion. Once you know it is safe, how do you know what combination of THC, CBD and terpenes provide what medical response? Those are the questions we are testing and answering everyday.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Concentrate on Cannabis
When creating cannabis concentrates, producers apply solvents, such as butane or alcohol, to stimulate the extraction process. Despite solid efforts from these companies, solvents are rarely 100% removed from concentrates and it therefore remains imperative that proper testing is conducted.
“Most companies put forth a great effort to completely remove these solvents by the time the product is finished, but 100% removal isn’t happening 100% of the time. It is important to test the potency and percentages left behind so people know what they are consuming.” Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
How Testing Impacts the Industry?
There remains no unified system throughout the Unites States as it pertains to cannabis testing. State testing is regulated differently across the board, depending on the legality of cannabis within state lines.
“By and large, the people creating legislation and regulation have little knowledge as to the biochemistry or medical realms, especially pertaining to cannabis. What we hope to see is a collaborative effort between lawmakers, regulators and scientists like ourselves so that we can make educated decisions when writing mandates, initiatives and legislation.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
“Increased testing provides an inherent value to product improvement and new product development.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Making Money of Better Products
Consumers are not the only ones who benefit from product testing. Cannabis dispensaries can operate more efficiently and accurately when informed as to exactly what they are selling. For example, a dispensary might casually divide cannabis into bronze, silver and gold levels of quality. But, if testing is conducted, they can more accurately judge cannabis compounds and therefor be 100% certain they are charging the correct price for their products.
“Increased testing provides an inherent value to product improvement and new product development. When you test a product and know what service it is going to provide, it will be much more effective and therefore provide more value.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
Separating Good and Bad
“Patients need to ask their dispensaries, ‘Do you test your medications and who are you testing with?’. Patients deserve to know what is going in their body before they consume it. By asking these questions, patients will force dispensaries to provide this information or risk losing customers to those who do. Either way we all get a better, safer product.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
Without proper labeling and testing, most consumers are implementing the sight and smell test when it comes to selecting their cannabis.
“Cannabis is typically identified and understood as being either indica or sativa. The indica being a body-relaxing, couch locking high good for pain management and sleep issues. They see sativa as a more uplifting, energetic and creative high. In reality, the difference is very little. You can have a cannabinoid and terpene profile in an indica that is nearly identical to that of a sativa. Only through testing can the effects truly become known and labeled.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
Sure, seeing and smelling cannabis has been the method of selection for decades, if not centuries. However, cultivation techniques, pesticides and chemical stimulants are evolving as fast as the green rush itself. These introductions are, for the most part, impossible to see or smell. Once again, the only way to truly become a more careful cannabis consuming culture is to properly test an medication, prior to application.
“We have very expensive and intricate testing equipment that provides insight much greater than the ‘eyes and nose’ testing that happens all too often today.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
How C4 Laboratories is approaching testing?
“As research and testing continues, we need to be sure we are taking advantage of that information, using it to make more informed decisions and medicate patients more effectively and responsibly.” – Dr. Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer/Co-Owner – C4 Laboratories
“C4 takes a two pronged approach. We want to educate dispensaries, caregivers, cultivators and manufacturers so that they see the value in testing and, on their own accord, choose to protect the patients by providing the best product and information as possible. On the flipside, we want patients to be informed as to what they are consuming. We want them to ask questions of their providers so that we can all find a common ground and create a safer cannabis culture as a whole.” – Ryan Treacy – Founder/CEO – C4 Laboratories
Know Before You Go
Plain and simple, know your wants and needs before you visit your local dispensary. In many cases, the dispensary staff will be knowledgeable and willing to find something that fits your exact end goal. Do the research prior to embarking on your journey, that way you too can become a careful cannabis consumer.
Have questions about cannabis science or testing? Join the conversation and comment below! We can help you get the answers you need!