Study: More Than 9 in 10 Smokable Hemp Products Test Above Federal THC Limit

The lack of standardized third-party testing, and overall regulation, is often cited in reference to the blossoming hemp-derived cannabinoid market. While plenty of consumers will attest to the power behind these products and there are surely plenty of companies doing their due diligence, there is simply less oversight with hemp compared to the legal cannabis industry.

For this reason, consumers of some hemp-derived products may find themselves in the midst of a hefty psychoactive experience when they otherwise assume they are using a solely hemp or CBD offering.

A new study in the journal Forensic Chemistry sheds more light on the prevalence of THC in products advertised as hemp, which must contain less than 0.3% THC, per the 2018 Farm Bill, in order to be federally legal and considered hemp. 

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and State University of New York (SUNY) Albany found that an overwhelming majority of smokable hemp products contained more than the aforementioned THC limit in a recent analysis. 

This means that these products should actually be considered cannabis, not hemp, and that they are technically illegal on a federal level.

A Closer Look at Smokable Products

The study analyzed 53 smokable hemp products from five commercial manufacturers, though specific products and manufacturers are unnamed. Researchers looked for the presence of a variety of cannabinoids including delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, THC-A and total delta-9 THC.

Researchers took between 10 and 20 grams of each product, used a “small portable Magic Bullet grinder” and four to five pulses “to represent similar procedures forensic laboratories have been using to measure total Δ9-THC in seized cannabis plant samples.” They then utilized a methanol extraction procedure and proceeded to use the LC-PDA method, which separates 11 cannabinoids in less than 10 minutes.

“Over 90% of the samples analyzed by NIST were determined to have a total total Δ9-THC mass fraction above 0.3 % even though samples were being marketed as hemp,” researchers write. “Surprisingly, often the associated online documentation reported total Δ9-THC mass fractions of ≥0.3 %.”

Approximately 93% of the samples were above the 0.3% federal limit, and nearly half of the online documents provided by product manufacturers differed from the corresponding product labels. When comparing the NIST results to online documentation provided by manufacturers for 22 samples, researchers note that cannabinoid levels “differed by ≈55 % for total Δ9-THC, ≈68 % for THCA, and ≈18 % for Δ9-THC.”

Researchers said that it’s possible that the differences were due to testing methods, a lack of consistency in samples leading to unpredictable testing outcomes, variability between batches or storage conditions. Though researchers also note that the differences could simply be due to inaccurate product labels and online documentation.

A Complicated New Chapter for Hemp-Derived Products

“These studies demonstrate the need for accurate analytical measurements, batch homogeneity measurements, appropriate long-term storage conditions, and updated product information,” authors concluded. “These results also highlight the need for reference materials in the cannabis industry to establish measurement accuracy.”

The study comes as states across the country increasingly move to crack down on hemp-derived cannabinoids, with some ushering in more stringent regulation procedures and others moving to simply ban certain hemp-derived cannabinoids and associated products altogether.

And this trend of misleading cannabinoid content in hemp products is not an isolated incident.

A recent report took a closer look at hemp-derived products sold on Amazon, looking specifically at a group of gummies, tinctures, topicals and mints all marketed as hemp products. The majority of tested products (35 of 56 products, or 62.5%) contained no cannabinoids at all with more than a third (24 of 56 products, or 43%) containing no hemp.

Nearly 95% of the products did not provide Certificates of Analysis (COA), typically considered an essential for reputable companies selling hemp products. Notably, the report also confirmed that a whopping 96% of tested products did not advertise an accurate dosage.

The next iteration of the Farm Bill is expected later this year, and it’s highly anticipated that it may include provisions to further limit THC amounts in hemp-derived products.

The post Study: More Than 9 in 10 Smokable Hemp Products Test Above Federal THC Limit appeared first on High Times.


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