On Tuesday, a federal science agency came forward to declare the launch of a cannabis testing program to successfully ensure the accuracy of the labeling of the products available for purchase, from retailers and dispensaries.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) declared the urgent importance of proper education about hemp after its federal legalization under the 2018 Farm Bill. Consumers are to be aware of the cannabis products that are currently sold on the market. To fulfill this need, the agency will supervise a project with multiple phases that will encourage and ensure the proper practices in lab testing.
Currently, the Cannabis Quality Assurance (CannaQAP) program will initially focus on oils derived from hemp, such as CBD. However, officials have reported a possibility in the expansion of the program to include a larger variety. The variety will include concentrates, edibles, marijuana flowers, etc. While recreational cannabis remains federally prohibited, this is still a notable action for a federal agency.
NIST reported in a press release that the program is essentially designed to aid in the accuracy of the measurement of key chemical compounds present in cannabis products. These include hemp, marijuana, oils, tinctures, edibles, and balms.
The main purpose
This project aims to enhance accuracy in the labeling of products with added help in forensic laboratories for the exact differentiation between hemp and marijuana, considering the former is federally legal while the latter isn’t.
When it comes to cannabis, a small number makes a big difference. Find out how NIST is helping labs distinguish between hemp and marijuana by accurately measuring the amount of THC: https://t.co/K9jxfZrsrm pic.twitter.com/mpW2n8DbLp
— National Institute of Standards and Technology (@NIST) July 21, 2020
The first phase will involve NIST delivering samples of hemp oil to all laboratories that are participating. The labs will then accurately measure the exact concentration of different compounds, and send their final reports back to NIST.
According to NIST, generally labels mark the concentration of 2 main compounds
However, many labs are inexperienced in the execution of these tests, which then leads to inaccurate results. NIST aims to provide reliable labels so that the consumers are able to trust the cannabis products they are purchasing.
With equal concentrations of over a dozen cannabinoids including THC and CBD, NIST will send the samples to the labs that are participating in the project. However, NIST will make sure that the labs are unaware of the concentration. Moreover, NIST will require the lab to measure the samples, where their results will determine their accuracy. Their reports will need to include everything about the techniques and methods used for the analysis.
With anonymized data, NIST will then gather results to analyze the variability in between different labs. Next, they will publish the results for further steps. The anonymity will protect the integrity of the lab and its performance.
NIST researchers explain that after the results, it will be potentially easier to issue reliable recommendations for the best methods for cannabis testing. Reports conclude the primary phase to take 6 months to 1 year.
The CannaQAP program is essential due to the issuance of the federal law regarding hemp farmers. It is necessary for the THC concentration in their crops to not exceed 0.3%
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted a report recently to Congress regarding the current state of the CBD industry. The official document focuses on the agency and their performance on quality control over the last 6 years. Moreover, the report was a response to the mandate which Congress issued with the appropriations legislation in 2019.
The report, however, shows notable inconsistencies between the concentrations of cannabinoids that are written on labels, and the actual concentrations in the product. Simultaneously, researchers couldn’t collect significant evidence proving that dangerous minerals and metals are responsible for the contamination.
While this is a notable step, the federal agency is planning to exceed the limitations of legal hemp products and expand their project.