Quality Control & Testing
- Shape and structure of the cannabis flower – how well-connected are the calyxes of the flowers.
- Vibrancy of the flower’s color. This is a good indicator that the flower was grown properly, that it was fed the right nutrients, that it was well maintained throughout its growth cycle and that it was flushed properly.
- Health and color of the trichomes. This helps to determine if the flower was harvested at the right time. Additionally, this aids in determining if the effect is going to be more energizing or more sedative.
- Visible signs of imperfections such as seeds, micro seeds, seed pods, and signs of the flower and plant being a hermaphrodite.
- Trim quality.
- Signs of any bugs or bug damage, or animal or human contamination such as fur or hair.
- Signs of mold, mildew and yeast, as well as signs of pesticides and fungicides.
- Moisture content – this is an indicator of how well the medicine was cured.
- Type of extract: Sauce, Budder, Crumble, Honeycomb, Nectar, Sap, Shatter, Taffy, Wax, etc. The various textures of extracts are an initial indicator of potency, flavor and technique of extraction and purging.
- Quality of texture. This is an indicator of how thorough the purging process was.
- Density per gram.
- Color: Bright, vibrant colors can indicate how terpene rich the medicine is.
- Signs of contaminants – plant and animal matter including fur and hair, unusual coloring and signs of mold.
- Physical quality of the edible and what kind of edible – brownies, cakes, candies, cookies, tinctures and even pills or caps. Different patients require various delivery methods of medication.
- Freshness, signs of mold or spoiling.
- How susceptible the type of edible is to mold and spoiling. Certain types of edibles will have a shorter shelf life or require various methods of storage. For example, a cake will need to be refrigerated or possibly frozen whereas lozenges, hard candies or even honey can be stored at room temperature.
- Proper packaging with state compliant dosing, ingredients, expiration dates and safety warnings. It is very important to know the ingredients and their quality as some patients may have allergies or may have specific dietary needs.
- Type of topical: lotion, oil, salve, ointment, etc. The various consistencies of cannabis based topicals are an indicator of how to apply the topical, properly store it and its susceptibility to mold and or spoiling.
- Signs of mold and or spoiling. Obviously topical products that exhibit these signs will be deemed unfit for use.
- Smell of the topical. This is an initial indicator that the topical was made in a clean environment, that it was manufactured professionally and that high quality ingredients were used to create the product.
SMELL & TASTE INSPECTION
- Strength and complexity of the smell; this is determined by the strength and presence of medically valuable terpenoids.
- How the aromas of a specified strain compare to others in the same strain family. Since there are different phenotypes of the same cannabis strain, it is important to determine how each sample compares to a standard representation of that strain.
- How smooth the smoke is – this indicates how well the cannabis was flushed and cured by the grower.
- How full the flavor of the smoke is and how it compares to other cannabis medicine within the same strain family. The flavor also indicates how terpene rich the medicine is.
- Duration and quality of the therapeutic effect.
- The color of the ash; how clean it is also indicates how well the cannabis was flushed and cured.
- We will smell and taste the concentrates oil to ensure that the smell and flavor is pleasing and the therapeutic effect is smooth, clean and safe for patient consumption.
- Quality of aroma – this is an initial indicator of how well the terpenoids were suspended in the extract. The smell may also indicate that the extracts were not purged properly.
- Quality of flavor on inhale and exhale. This indicates how well the cannabinoids and terpenoids were suspended in the final product, as well as the quality of the purging process. Some extracts are considered “throaty” or “harsh” and may be undesirable to individuals with respiratory issues.
- Smoothness of vaporization on the nail or vapor pen – clean vaporization is a good initial indicator that the concentrates does not contain poisonous residual solvents. However, extensive residual solvent lab analysis is required to confirm this.
- Quality of experience and therapeutic effect – this is an initial indicator of potency, and contributes to our understanding of which ailments may be alleviated by the medicine: e.g., sleep disorders, pain, anxiety, depression, lethargy.
To determine if a cannabis-based edible is fit for consumption, our Product Manager will smell, taste and sample the medicine to ensure that it is pleasing to the palate and the therapeutic effect is smooth, clean and safe for medical use. Multiple taste testers are often needed, as some edibles are better suited for patients with specific dietary restrictions (such as individuals with lactose intolerance or Crohn’s Disease) and we want to determine the effect of the edible on patients with varying metabolisms. We will look for a number of characteristics and qualities to judge:
- Freshness of the edible.
- Quality of flavor and quality of culinary execution. Poorly or improperly made edibles may cause digestive problems in sensitive individuals.
- Type of therapeutic effect. This is judged carefully, as some edibles are made with a specific strain or blend of strains that provide either a sedative or energizing effect.
- Many edibles are now being made with a blend of CBD and THC, so we also taken into consideration how psychoactive the effect is.
- Duration of the medical effect.
Why It’s Important to Test Your Medicine
Ingesting pesticides can be harmful, even in small doses. Think about it; pesticides are meant to destroy the brains of bugs. Is that something you want to put in your body? Although many cannabis cultivators use organic products to deter pests, others use toxic pesticides. This goes against everything cannabis is about. Cannabis is being recognized as a safer, gentler alternative to pharmaceutical drugs – it’s non-addictive, non-toxic, and can even help the body fight illness. Why fight disease with dirty medicine? Healthy living is better achieved using clean medicine. And we are committed to providing our patients with the safest medicine available.
The Mechanics of Testing
The State of California mandates cannabis cultivators and manufacturers to contract with a number of labs who are dedicated to ensuring their medicine meets the highest safety standards in the industry. Certified labs use comprehensive screening for pesticides in dried flowers and concentrates are consistent with EPA, ELAP, and international testing standards, and the tests are able to detect trace amounts of chemical pesticides using High Performance Liquid Chromatography in tandem with Triple-Quadrupole Mass Spectromotry (HPLC-MS/MS). Designed to quantify the presence of trace pesticide, fungicide and PGR residues.
Momentum is Building
The FDA has not yet seen fit to determine safe levels for insecticides or fungicides in cannabis. But momentum is building in the cannabis community for higher safety standards. More patients want to know their cannabis is lab-tested. Other states are instituting regulations that require cannabis medicine pass pesticide testing at “None Detectable” levels. The good news for us is that the labs in California have shown that they have the ability to detect much smaller amounts of residual pesticides, and hence guarantee even safer medicine for our patients.
Pesticide analysis goes hand in hand with an entire battery of tests, including residual solvent analysis, microbiological screening, and HPLC-MS testing, and helps to ensure that the medicine is completely free of potentially harmful chemicals. The pesticides are screened and be viewed in the chart below, and include abamectin, bifenazate, bifenthrin, carbaryl, cypermethrin, diazinon, myclobutanil, paclobutrazol, permethrin, resmethrin, and more.