Lab testing

Why Is Delta 8 Quality Assurance Lab Testing Important?

Written by Nick Congleton

Delta-8 CBD is here to stay, and it’s changed the cannabis market indefinitely. Such rapid expansion doesn’t come without challenges. The legal gray area in which delta-8 resides, along with a near complete lack of oversight have led to some less-than-scrupulous practices.

Independent laboratory quality assurance testing is the answer. Cultivators seeking to distinguish themselves and legitimize their product need third party certification. Educated delta-8 CBD consumers should be looking for products with a certificate of analysis (COA) to verify both the manufacturer’s claims and the purity of the product.

 

Impurities and Contamination

It might sound self-evident, but when delta-8 CBD isn’t tested, there’s risk of it not containing exactly what’s listed on the label. It’s no uncommon for disreputable manufacturers to lie in their labels and claims. Often this means nasty impurities and chemicals that no one would want to put into their bodies. According to the FDA, “Some manufacturers may use potentially unsafe household chemicals to make delta-8 THC through this chemical synthesis process.” [3]

When asked about delta-8 testing, Christopher Hudalla, president of ProVerde laboratories told Chemical & Engineering News, “There’s some delta-8 in there, but there’s very frequently up to 30 [chromatographic] peaks that I can’t identify.” He also noted that some of the positive results came from the presence of delta-9 THC. [4]

Delta-9 is the version of THC is illegal on the federal level in the United States. Its presence can result in a host of legal troubles for the manufacturer, the vendor, and the consumer. Delta-9 THC can also result in unwanted effects that the consumer is specifically trying to avoid by purchasing delta-8 instead.

 

Delta-8 THC is Synthesized

Most people commonly think of all CBD and THC coming form the cannabis plant. For the most part that’s true, but it’s most common that the delta-8 THC found in CBD is artificially synthesized because the quantities that naturally occur in the cannabis plant are very low. [1]

Artificially synthesized delta-8 can carry with it a whole new set of risks for impurities. The chemicals used to synthesize delta-8 can be caustic and harmful if ingested.  Residual quantities of these chemicals found in delta-8 CBD products could no doubt prove harmful. [4]

 

Concentrations and Dosages

When there is no third party to verify the claims made about the concentration of delta-8 THC found in a CBD product, the consumer is at the mercy of the manufacturer.  Maybe they’re getting a higher than expected concentration. Possibly worse, they’re being duped into paying more for a product that doesn’t measure up. In either situation, it makes it impossible to regulate the dosage, which can easily result in misuse.

The NIH published a study which analyzed the CBD content of eighty-four products from thirty-one different manufacturers. They found that 42.85% were labeled with too low a concentration. 26.19% were labeled with too high a concentration. Only 30.95% accurately displayed the concentration of CBD on the label. [5]

 

What to Look For in a COA

A COA is the main thing to look out for when purchasing delta-8 or any cannabis product. For businesses, providing an easily accessible COA from a reputable lab is a fantastic way to build trust with consumers.

When you first see a COA, it might appear confusing.  After all, it’s a document generated by a laboratory, full of scientific information.  However, there are a few key things to look out for.

Start with the top of the certificate. Look for the name of the lab that conducted the test. Search for them, and ensure that they are legitimate and credentialed. You’ll also see the name of CBD brand, the date the test was conducted, and possibly information about he batch tested and the type of test conducted.

Then, take a look at the main body of the report. It should feature a large table outlining the various cannabinoids tested for. The percentage (%) column will show you what percentage of total sample is made up by the cannabinoid and the milligram (mg/g) column will show the exact dosage of the cannabinoid in milligrams. Make sure that these numbers match the advertised ones.

Finally, some reports may contain information on the terpenes found in the CBD or any impurities. Again, verify that this information matches anything advertised. Look out for any contaminants to ensure that the CBD is, in fact, safe.

You can have much greater confidence in delta-8 CBD which has been tested and verified by a reputable lab with a credible COA.

 

Resources:

1- McKeil J. How delta-8 THC is made in the lab. Cannabis Tech. 2021. https://www.cannabistech.com/articles/how-delta-8-is-made-in-the-lab/

2- How to read a COA and why it’s so important. ACS Laboratory. 2020. https://acslabcannabis.com/blog/retail/how-to-read-a-coa-and-why-its-so-important/

3- 5 Things to know about delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol – delta-8 THC. FDA.gov. 2021. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc

4- Erickson BE. Delta-8-THC craze concerns chemists. Chemical & Engineering News. 2021;99(31). https://cen.acs.org/biological-chemistry/natural-products/Delta-8-THC-craze-concerns/99/i31

5- Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818782/

 

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Nick Congleton

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