Photo : Justin Sullivan ( Getty Images ) ] Your next edible chocolate pot could be more or less strong than indicated, as new preliminary research suggests. It has been found that chocolate-based products can sometimes provide inconsistent laboratory values for the amount of THCs they contain.
Scientists from CW Analytical, a California cannabis testing laboratory, found that their potency values for THC – the chemical – were inconsistent Most of those associated with weed high were sometimes distant from each other. That led them to an experiment. They tested two different concentrations of ground milk chocolate from an edible for their THC potency: a 1000 milligram sample and a 2000 milligram sample. They also performed comparative tests with different volumes of a typical solvent.
Regardless of the amount of solvent used, the average values of the 1000 milligram samples were higher and more accurate than those of the 2,000 milligram samples taken. The team's findings were presented this week at the annual conference of the American Chemical Society (ACS)
Dawson said in a press conference on Tuesday. "If you theoretically have more chocolate in a vial, you should get a more representative idea of the sample."
Dawson and his team performed experiments mixing cannabis-free chocolate with known levels of THC. And again, the more chocolate in a vial, the less accurate the readings became. This strongly suggests that it is something with the chocolate itself that causes the misinterpretations.
The results of the study have not yet been peer-reviewed, so there is still some skepticism about it. And Dawson does not believe that the potential labeling discrepancies would pose a threat to the public (although food itself could be less safe than other forms of cannabis use). Assuming that the results are correct, they could be a nuisance to both the cannabis test lab and the entire industry.
In California, for example, edible products called for testing must come very close to the THC value indicated on a label. If the product is less effective than advertised, it can trigger costly re-labeling. If it is higher, the entire supply of food can be destroyed.
"It's not a public health problem – it's not that crazy about a dosage difference," Dawson said. "The actual chocolate bar could be 5 percent stronger than the values when it comes into play. [But] It could falsely trigger a mistake for the producers that could force them to re-label.
More work needs to be done to find a surefire way to ensure accurate THC readings in their tests, Dawson said. In order to do this, it has to be found out exactly what causes inaccurate readings in chocolate. Based on the previous experiments with chocolate bars, cocoa powder, baker's chocolate and white chocolate, the main suspicion of the team is due to the abundant sources of fat in chocolate. Dawson noted that THC is known to be fat-soluble, so that enough fat in a sample could hinder the recovery of THC through its current testing methods.
In the meantime, smaller chocolate samples (1,000 milligrams) seem to be accurate enough for testing, though Dawson has called it a "paving strategy" for the time being.
"Obviously, it's a bigger goal to alleviate this problem completely," he said.