Cannabis, CBD & Low THC Oil Part 3: Product Due Diligence

admin  ∼  May 8, 2015  ∼  Mitochondrial disease Research Cannabis Treatment Living with Low THC Oil CBD Oil Seizures

VMP's Dr Fran Kendall Factoid Friday Blog on Rare Diseases


Part 3 of 3

With medical marijuana primed to be the next billion dollar business in America, this “green rush” has attracted more than its share of unscrupulous companies/people who are driven by financial gains and not by the best interest of consumers.

As such, it is crucial for patients/parents/caregivers to do their due diligence and ask questions before using any cannabis product. 

STEP ONE -

The first step in obtaining a legitimate vendor is to know your supplier.

If they are legitimate and not producing a product from impure hemp paste secured through overseas suppliers they will not have issues answering the following questions, all aimed at determining the purity and safety of the compounds they are selling or distributing. Such questions include the following:               

  • Where do you grow your plants?  Are the plants grown Indoors or Outdoors?
  • Can patients visit the greenhouse/field?
  • What strain do you grow?
  • Do you use “organic soil, nutrients?”
  • What is your contingency plan for pests? What pesticide do you use?
  • Do you have adequate supply for all your patients?
  • How would you handle the loss of a harvest and still supply patients?

STEP TWO -

The second step in securing a safe and reliable product is to know the lab that is testing the cannabis product.

Not all states have a certification process but if it’s available, determine if the lab you are or plan on using is certified. Although cannabis certification programs are still in the   infancy stage of development, labs registered with their state will, at the very least, have documentation of machine calibration at least once a year. In addition, while many labs will complete their own in-house quality control studies, requesting verification of product safety through sample analysis conducted by an independent third party is recommended. Remember to always request and review the testing results of the independent studies.

Make sure to inquire which instrumentation the laboratory is using to process the cannabis. Gas Chromatography (GC) is an older technology and is no longer the standard for Potency testing. The heating process utilized in GC technology results in inflated calculations of the concentration of a number of cannabinoids including THC and CBD. This miscalculation can lead to less concentrated samples and thereby ineffective medical cannabis products. If possible, locate a laboratory that uses high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) or the even newer and more accurate ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) for their potency testing.

STEP THREE -

The third and final step is to know which laboratory tests are needed to ensure a safe product.  In addition, consumers need to become educated on the interpretation of those testing results.

Potency Testing

This testing is completed to determine the amount of each cannabinoids in your product. This test is almost always provided since it is crucial for accurate dosing, It is impossible to determine correct dosing without potency testing results.

In addition, potency testing is required under HB1 in GA for every bottle of cannabis oil, since the law dictated that the concentration of THC is less than 5% of the finished product.

Microbial Testing  

This test is crucial for patients with weak immune systems The test will show if any fungus, mold, bacteria, yeast are present in the cannabis product. If the grower/company does not want to provide this test, we strongly advice against using that product! 

Residual Solvent Testing

Cannabis oil can be extracted from the plant in several different ways, and depending on the extraction method used, different residual solvents may remain in the end product. Residual Ethanol, Butane, Hexane and other compounds in the finished product may be dangerous to patients in general but particularly for those with weakened immune systems.   This test will show if any residuals solvents are present in the product. 

A few companies are using botanical extraction, eliminating the use of potentially harmful solvents.   Residual solvent testing is not needed or indicated if your supplier utilizing this methodology. 

Heavy Metal Testing

Heavy metal testing is indicated if your product is grown outdoors and particularly if it is a derivative of industrial hemp or contains a strain of industrial hemp.

Because of its phytoremediation properties (process whereby plants remove toxic agents from the environment), Hemp absorbs everything from the soil, including any heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, or lead.  Heavy metal testing will ensure that your product is free of those very harmful chemical elements.  However, if your grower uses organic soil and only grows indoors or in a greenhouse, this test is not needed.

 

While it can potentially be challenging to find a safe product, it is not impossible. Ultimately, passage and implementation of federal laws regulating the production and distribution of cannabis products is needed to eliminate these issues but since this process is in its infancy we will need to protect ourselves and loved ones in the meantime by due diligence.  Remember, safe products are out there and if you use the information above, you will most definitely increase your chances of obtaining an effective yet harmless product.

Sincerely,

Dr Fran Kendall & Sebastien Cotte

This post is not meant to be a recommendation or a substitute for professional advice and services rendered by qualified doctors, allied medical personnel, and other professional services. The responsibility for any use of this information, or for proper medical treatment, rests with you.