Second, the process of turning THCA into THC is not 100% efficient—not every THCA molecule will be converted into a THC molecule, and at very high temperatures, some of the THC may degrade into CBN. Our friends at Steep Hill Labs estimate that 75% is a representative upper limit for what fraction of THCA will end up as THC. In that case, for every four molecules of THCA that get heated during consumption, only three get successfully converted to THC.
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways you can estimate THC levels in cannabis products (the same logic applies to CBD).
THCA, THC, and decarboxylation
Most cannabis products sold legally in the US are required to be tested and labeled for THC and CBD content. However, when you examine a typical label, you’re likely to see several numbers, such as CBDA, CBD, THCA, and THC percentages, and perhaps things like “Total THC” and “Total Cannabinoids.” Let’s look at a real-life example from Washington state:
Things get tricky when we look at the “total THC” level, which is 21.35% here. Total THC is supposed to refer to how much THC will be present as a percentage of dry weight after the THCA has been converted into THC. On this example label, “total THC” is 21.35%. But wait, if we have 1.0% THC and 23.2% THCA, why isn’t total THC 24.2%? Shouldn’t we just add the THC and THCA percentage levels together, since THCA will get converted into THC? Nope. There are a couple things that make this tricky.
How to assess THC and CBD levels in cannabis strains and products
Dr. Brenneisen emphasized that “Decarboxylation efficiency/rate depends on heating temperature and time, as well as the vaporizer design and technology.” His lab has specifically studied how different vaporization temperatures and products affect how efficiently THCA is converted into THC in both flower and cannabis extracts. “Heating of cannabis extracts at 200°C for five minute results in almost 100% decarboxylation of THCA to THC, without forming CBN,” he said.
NIST is also working on a hemp reference material — that is, a material that comes with known, accurate measurement values. Labs will be able to use that material to validate their measurement methods. One reason these measurements vary so much from lab to lab is that, currently, there are no reference materials for cannabis.
NIST is also planning to conduct future exercises with ground hemp and possibly marijuana. Those exercises will involve measuring a larger number of compounds, including terpenes — the chemicals that give different strains of marijuana their distinct aromas — and compounds that people don’t want in their cannabis such as fungal toxins, pesticides and heavy metals. Future exercises may also include extracts, concentrates, distillates and edibles.
Those numbers are also important as a matter of criminal law. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also called the 2018 Farm Bill, legalized any cannabis material with a THC concentration below 0.3%. Below that number, it’s hemp. At or above that number, it’s marijuana, and illegal in many states and by federal law. A farmer’s crop can be destroyed based on that number, and interstate shipments can be seized.
Once that first round of exercises is complete and the data is published, which could take from six months to a year, NIST will run a second round of exercises. “We hope to see a tightening of the numbers the second time around,” Wilson said.
“Labs can accurately measure how much sugar is in your orange juice because they have standardized methods and reference materials for that type of product,” said Susan Audino, a chemistry consultant and science adviser to the Cannabis Analytical Science Program of the AOAC International, a group that establishes standard methods for laboratory analysis. “But cannabis has been a Schedule I drug since the ‘70s,” she said, referring to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s designation for drugs that have the highest potential for abuse.
“Anonymity means that labs don’t have to worry about how their performance will be viewed,” said NIST research chemist Melissa Phillips. “Our goal is to help labs improve, not to call them out.”
Here’s how CannaQAP will work. In the first round of exercises, NIST will send hemp oil samples — all with the same, very carefully measured concentrations of THC, CBD and 15 other cannabinoid compounds — to participating labs. Those labs won’t be told the concentrations of those compounds but will measure them and send their results back to NIST, along with information about the methods they used to do the analysis.
As part of the Cannabis Quality Assurance (CannaQAP) program, NIST will send hemp oil samples to participating labs, which will then measure the concentration of various compounds and report back to NIST. Future exercises will involve plant material.
NIST produces thousands of standard reference materials and has a long history of conducting quality assurance programs for improving measurements. Past programs have helped labs accurately measure compounds in dietary supplements, vitamins in human serum and environmental contaminants in groundwater.
Know that CBD content in Cannabidiol comes with an mg symbol at the end, while the ml refers to the hemp seed oil in which the CBD dissolves. It indicates how much you should take with each CBD drop.
The test aims at testing the strength and quality of cannabinoids that are present in the CBD oil they are selling. It gives a list of the terpenes present in the oil, THC content if present and CBD, and other compounds as well. With such an analysis, you can gain confidence and trust in a specific product and purchase it for use.
Cannabis supplements like CBD have undergone a revamp in recent years. The popularity of CBD as a food supplement product along with more open laws and acceptance by leaders have allowed the CBD supplement market to flourish.
Also, take home the certificate of analysis for your product and this can be compared to lab testing results and reports supplied by the CBD company or brand.
Take care with CBD oil manufacturers
This will alter the dosage and effect the oil’s interactions with the body. It is essential to thoroughly check all product labels to get all the information you need before supplementing your diet with CBD.
Purchasing CBD oil is deemed a challenging task by some but it doesn’t have to be. Of course it can be daunting for those individuals with no idea which companies are trustworthy and which to steer away from. However, if you want to purchase quality CBD ingredients and be sure of your product’s strength levels, seek reputable companies with a documented reputation.
This relatively new kit is a cheap and cheerful method to check for synthetic cannabinoids in your CBD oil product. Created by EZ Test Kits it aims to test samples of cannabis oil or hemp oil for substances like K2, Spice and other herbal incenses used to replace the cannabinoid ingredient of your oil.
Learn to Differentiate Milligrams from Millilitres
Before taking the CBD oil, ensure you follow the brand or company’s instructions and adhere to the recommended dosage levels at the beginning of your CBD doses. Also, be sure to stick to one CBD brand at a time and do not use similar oils at the same time.
This kit can be purchased in conjunction with the tCheck Device or to use with one, if you have one already at home. The expansion kit simply gives you extra items to ensure you can effectively test plant flower or concentrates of oil.