“Just Testing For Potency Is Not Enough”
San Francisco marijuana safety specialist Botanitec says if the medical marijuana industry in California wants to prove it cares about serving patients, and not just getting people high, growers and dispensaries will need to get serious about testing product safety, not just potency.
Recent comments by the US Attorneys in charge of the crackdown on California’s medical marijuana industry have implied that medical cannabis dispensaries are little more than fronts for drug gangs and harmful to children. But Mary Williams, founder of San Francisco marijuana certification lab Botanitec, knows this is a distortion of the facts, and that many dispensaries and collectives are deeply devoted to helping patients.
She says in order to counter the accusations of the US Attorneys, growers and caregivers need to prove that they put patients first. One effective way to do this is to ensure they put solid quality control systems in place. By testing all their medicine for safety-not just potency-growers and collectives can demonstrate professionalism and show they are dedicated to the health of their patients.
“MMJ patients deserve to know the details of their medical cannabis and cannabis-containing products,” says Mary.
Currently, many dispensaries/collectives don’t even bother to test the medicine they provide, and many that say they test really only test for marijuana potency. While reporting cannabinoid content is indeed important for patients to accurately judge their required dosage, says Mary, quality cannabis isn’t just about cannabinoid content. Patients also need to know their medical cannabis is free from biological and chemical contaminants. She emphasizes this is especially critical for immune compromised patients.
“Botanitec conducted a recent random survey of 11 dispensaries located in the North Bay area. The results were alarming: 0 comprehensively tested for potency and biological/chemical contaminants; 7 tested for potency only; and 4 didn’t test at all. We didn’t find any dispensary testing its entire medical cannabis inventory or tying the testing that was performed to any specific lot date code or harvest date, or keeping logs of the medicine to be easily accessed should any issues arise,” says Mary. “While the results are alarming, the primary corrective actions needed are simple to enact.”
First, she says, the safety and integrity of the product can be controlled by conducting comprehensive unbiased third-party testing. Second, dispensaries and collectives must proactively operate with solid professional standards of quality control documentation including product lot date testing and coding logs in place.
“With these minimum quality control standards in place, patients will have the information they need to know their cannabis is of consistent high quality and the industry will demonstrate it has taken the initiative to raise the bar for marijuana patient safety.”
Botanitec provides quality control with a mobile cannabis lab that allows technicians to test and certify product at the source, reducing risk of contamination. Botanitec screens for chemical contaminants (insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides), biological contaminants (bacteria, fungus, viruses and parasites), and physical material hazards (bug parts, metal, plastic, soil, etc.). Botanitec also tests for potency (THC, CBD and CBN content) and moisture levels.
In addition to safety and potency testing, Botanitec offers the CannaQA Certification Program, which gives medicinal marijuana patients assurance that products bearing the seal are certified safe by an unbiased third party. CannaQA certification includes nitrogen-sealed packaging to preserve purity, a certificate of conformity bearing the testing lot number, a label on each bag with test results, a tamper-proof CannaQA card for dispensary/website display, a Patient Portal where patients can access a password-protected website to see the test results on their medical marijuana, and HIPPA level client confidentiality.