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Registered: 07/06/10
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Several factors contribute to lack of marijuana testing
    #538480 - 03/20/11 07:46 PM (7 years, 2 months ago)

Dana M. Nichols


Sunday 20 Mar 2011
Modern chemistry techniques make it possible to precisely determine the potency and chemical makeup of every batch of medical marijuana.

Yet few dispensary operators are getting their products tested and few patients are seeing the kind of potency information that is printed on conventional medications like aspirin.

The cost of testing - and a reluctance to allow even a few grams of product to be destroyed by laboratory analysis - are barriers to widespread examination, say dispensary operators and others in the medical marijuana industry.
Finding the truth

High anxiety

• Some people find the mind-altering effects of marijuana relaxing. For others, the euphoria caused by injesting too much of the chemical compound THC is unpleasant. Sometimes, it also triggers anxiety attacks.

Cancer fighter

• Two of the major compounds in marijuana have cancer-fighting properties, according to scientists researching them, but biological mysteries abound. Clinical trials have shown that it eases pain and inflammation and at least one of the chemicals, CBD, has been used to shrink tumors.

To smoke or not

• One of the biggest questions facing medical marijuana users is whether to smoke it. Biochemist Samantha Miller recently spoke in Valley Springs, telling patients and caregivers to stop. Smoking irritates the lungs and involves ingesting the jagged soot from heated plant matter.

Consumer apathy is another factor.

"I've never had anybody ask," said Gretchen Seagraves, owner of Blue Mountain Collective in San Andreas, when asked if her patients wanted precise information.

Seagraves said the cost of paying a lab makes her reluctant to begin testing. "It is $110 for one sample," Seagraves said of the battery of tests that would spell out such things as the percentage of active ingredients by weight and the relative proportion of major com-pounds.

Listed prices range from $240 for a full battery that includes potency testing and checking for molds and pesticides at Pure Analytics in Santa Rosa to $120 for potency testing only at Steep Hill Cannabis Analysis Laboratory in Oakland.

Some local governments are beginning to require at least some testing. Stockton's medical marijuana ordinance requires testing for contaminants.

Mendocino County has a program through which it has certified Steep Hill to visit marijuana growing sites to certify methods and potency.

And there's another problem: a number of medical pot labs in California have the right equipment for testing, but the nascent industry lacks standards and consistent outcomes.

Even when they've cooperated on the same product, lab owners admit they haven't always produced the same results.

Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or dnichols@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/calaverasblog.





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