Canadian province plans cannabis testing program to tackle THC inflation

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Government-owned marijuana wholesaler Ontario Cannabis Store is planning to undertake a temporary testing program to address THC inflation, according to a recent email sent to licensed producers and obtained by MJBizDaily.

The move comes as some executives warn that THC inflation – the practice of labeling cannabis products with exaggerated THC levels – is becoming more widespread.

Earlier this year, a British Columbia-based licensed cannabis testing laboratory found that THC levels for dozens of products it tested were significantly lower than the labeled value.

“One of the core value propositions of the legal cannabis framework is that it provides adults with safe access to recreational cannabis products that are traceable and trusted,” according to the email from Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) Chief Operating Officer Denny Palarchio.

“The OCS is aware of recent reports and online petitions suggesting THC values on some regulated dried flower products may be overstated.”

The OCS said the phenomenon “poses a threat to consumer confidence in the legal regulatory framework,” noting that the organization put forward recommendations to the federal government in 2022 to establish national standards for third-party testing.

The “temporary” THC testing program will begin Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, according to the OCS email.

The program will focus on select dried flower products, including pre-rolls that are labeled with high THC.

There is no cost to licensed producers for the testing.

The OCS said the acceptable variance is set at plus or minus 15% of the label claim.

“Products that fall outside acceptable variance levels will be returned to producers for re-testing and re-labelling. Producers will be notified to plan for product pickup,” according to the email.

Licensed producers subjected to the testing will have the one-time option to contest the results within five business days of being notified.

In that case, a new sample set from the same production lot will be selected and sent for retesting at the producer’s expense.

In the email, the OCS said it anticipates the impact of the program on speed-to-market will be minimal; the turnaround time for testing is expected to be three to five days – potentially longer if results are contested.