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Apr 11, 2016 9:05 AM

Scientists Found Method to Determine Exact Dose of Cannabis in Edibles

Stories of people who accidentally eat too much of the cannabis-infused chocolate brownies are funny when they happen to others and scary when the same happens to you. And the concern about the inconsistent and inaccurate dosage information listed on the bags of edibles is reasonable: ingesting too much weed is an experience that can be unexpectedly bad. Fortunately, scientists found a new method of measuring cannabis compounds in edibles.

Scientists Found Method to Determine Exact Dose of Cannabis in Edibles

The researchers from the world's largest scientific organization American Chemical Society were so concerned about the numerous reports about the inaccurate measuring of weed content in the products that they decided to fix the situation.

Before the legal medical cannabis and the revolution in lab testing, it was extremely hard to measure the cannabinoid dosage in marijuana products. Even today, after more states have decriminalized the plant or allowed legal medical access, most information we have about the cannabis dose is primarily based on an anecdote. Labeling on the marijuana edibles is at best inconsistent and at worst misleading, as nearly half of labels do not contain a full list of substances present in the products.

Why are the discrepancies important? Only newbies can ask such a question. Experienced potheads know that edible cannabis can be more potent and have longer-lasting effects than a joint. Furthermore, the threshold of THC for most consumers of edibles is around two milligrams. A dose meant for relieving pain is from two to ten milligrams. Overdose of psychoactive components is dangerous not only because it can send you to the emergency room in a psychedelic fog, but also because it increases the levels of pain the patient experiences.

The scientists report that the new technique they have developed can more precisely measure marijuana compounds in cookies, brownies, and other infused edibles. So, consumers can be sure of the product safety.

Most edible manufacturers are currently using a device called a high-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC) that separates, identifies, and quantifies each component in a mixture. But this machine was never designed for a lollipop to be put into them: the sugars, fats, and starches can ruin the process and lead to inaccurate results.

The new technique can overcome this challenge. Infused food samples were placed into a cryo-mill with dry ice or liquid nitrogen, then a silica-based compound was added and grounded to a homogenous mixture. Then, using flesh chromatography, the scientists separated the various chemical compounds. This method of measuring THC and CBD levels in edibles proved to be more accurate and reliable than it had been previously possible.

HPLC was initially developed to test a cured flower for its cannabinoid content. While it works great on plant matter, it fails miserably on edibles. So it is not surprising that many producers of marijuana-infused edibles complain that sending off their products to three different labs they often get the same number of different results.

The labels on pot-infused chews and gummies can tell you the THC dose in each piece of the product but at the same time ignore the information about other components. Moreover, even that information is often inappropriate, and the difference in the dosage can reach up to 50 percent.

According to the research of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, nearly 80 percent of cannabis-infused edibles are mislabeled.

The scientists promise that the situation will be dramatically changed with the new method of measuring marijuana compounds. After passing all required testings, the next step will be to install this equipment into commercial labs to use it on a large scale.