Scientist tries to untangle marijuana edibles puzzle

Scientist tries to untangle marijuana edibles puzzle

Given the complexity of testing marijuana-infused cookies, candies and other foods, Eugene scientist Rodger Voelker acknowledges errors are possible even in well-run labs doing their best to verify results.

He said he’d expect those errors to produce a mix of results. Some products might turn out to be far less potent than their labels claim, while others might be much stronger. But that’s not what happened when he recently tested 15 marijuana-infused products at The Oregonian/OregonLive’s request.

Voelker, 50, found that the majority of products were far less potent than advertised.

“The label claim exceeds, grossly, what we found,” he said.

Voelker’s analysis found a dozen items had less THC than their labels claimed. Two products were stronger than advertised. One item, a chocolate candy, was accurate.

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Eight marijuana-testing laboratories performed at least one of the original state-mandated tests on the products purchased by The Oregonian/OregonLive. Some of the products listed multiple labs on their labels; others didn’t list a lab at all.

Voelker — who has a bachelor’s degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Oregon — said that without clear standards and regulation over labs, consumers have no choice but to trust that the product they’re consuming has undergone adequate testing.

“What we are getting at here is that the use of the term ‘rigorously tested’ has no meaning,” Voelker said. “What we are dealing with here is just somebody’s word.”

And while a product that’s less potent than advertised isn’t likely to harm consumers, it isn’t what they paid for.

“In these cases, they actually paid for that THC and it’s not there,” he said. “They got ripped off.”

— Noelle Crombie

Marijuana news.

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