Probably not. Depending on your size of batch and source of cannabinoids, full compliance testing edibles may average from over $2 per cookie (for small batches) to $0.30 (for large batches of extract and cookies).
To keep the test cost down for our patients while meeting the administrative rules, there are some are some strategies you can use to moderate this expense:
1. Increase the size of your batch
As in any manufacturing process, the size of the batch strongly effects the cost per unit. For example, doubling the batch size from a dozen cookies to two dozen will reduce the testing cost by roughly half. If we take this to twelve dozen, the price of testing will come to approximately to 1/12th of the one-dozen price. A large batch of baked cookies can be tested, packaged, and frozen without reducing quality or potency for several months. The cookies could then be sold later without additional testing.
2. Use infused oils wherever possible
If the product is made with a concentrate or distillate, a full contaminant test on the concentrate is also needed, but if the product is made with an infused oil or butter from flower, only potency testing is required on the oil or butter before use in the edible. Infused oils are therefore a great alternative to distillates for providers who produce limited quantities of edibles. Moreover, it is our interpretation that Rule IX allows providers to make a large batch of cannabutter / oil and have it tested once. It is then possible to freeze or refrigerate the butters, oils, and concentrates to maintain quality for up to 12 months. Depending on volume, a provider might then only need test new butter batches for cannabinoid content a few times a year.
With these ideas in mind, we have assembled a reference chart for edible test costs. As can be seen, even with small batches of extract it is possible for testing to cost about $0.50 per unit.
When extracting cannabinoids, pesticides can be concentrated preferentially, up to 13X more so than the cannabinoids. Also, pesticides may reside in higher concentrations on the leaves than flower, so the use of trim in an extraction batch may lead to much higher concentrations of pesticides than that seen in the mother flower. For this reason, testing of extracts, even with fully characterized starter flower, is required.
95% (190 proof) ethanol for human consumption (e.g. EverClear®), supercritical carbon dioxide, water extraction (bubble hash), and of course simple pressing are all methods that do not include hydrocarbon solvents that are on Montana’s restricted list.
Other methods, such as BHO, extraction with methanol, or extraction with isopropanol require additional treatments to ensure that the residual solvents are less than the action limits.
A “good” range depends of the therapeutic intent. Typically, individual patients respond differently to the dosage, frequency and the way cannabis is taken. While some tend to choose the most potent strains (most bang for the buck), patients may find that they respond best to strains that balance THC, CBD, and terpenes, or infused products that allow a more predictable dosage and uptake.
Edibles tend to fall between 5mg and 30mg per serving, but as with any medicine, an optimum MMJ dosage will vary with the patient. The total dose of a cannabinoid may be therapeutic at a dose as low as 3mg, and some patients with particular needs may require over 100mg. In all cases, be cautious with dosage of edibles as it may take two hours or more for the full effects of the cannabis product to take effect.
PS our very old (10lb) cat’s arthritis responds well to 1mg of CBD per day…
As with any medication, please consult your physician. However, biochemically cannabis affects only the endo-cannabinoid system (governing pain and mood) and does not affect the autonomous system which is responsible for critical life functions, unlike opioids. For this reason, cannabinoid therapies are inherently safer than opioid treatments.
Based on the five-carbon isoprene building block, terpenes are the Swiss-army knives of plants; terpenes provide communication, defense, and attraction for plants and allow them to interact with the rest of the world. Terpenes vary from the “flowery” monoterpenoids such as linalool (lavender) and mycene (hops) to the more herbal sesquiterpinoids such as humulene (earthy) or caryophyllene (black pepper). Both the ratios and concentrations of these terpenes in cannabis varies widely; typically, cannabis contains between 1% and 2.5% total terpenes, and nearly always contains significant amounts of myrcene and caryophyllene as “markers”.
Perhaps not coincidentally, terpenes are also well-known aromatherapy compounds that elicit certain physiological effects in humans. Particular to cannabis, the rich mix of terpenes in marijuana interact with cannabinoids to enhance medicinal effects of both. When you combine different terpenes with different cannabinoids, you get what is termed the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect is what differentiates strains and is the core of marijuana horticulture; the literally thousands of available strains are a consequence of many decades of breeding programs to develop specific combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes to achieve certain effects.
It is worth noting that breeding targets may not include the highest potency of THC; a good strain and phenotype will target a particular effect rather than “high numbers”. When determining your cannabis therapy, consider not only the cannabinoid content but also the overall taste and effect – this is both a personal preference and a physiological one. Most of us don’t buy wine based on alcohol content; pick the strain that best agrees with you!
No, we can’t. The ARM specifies labelling products with “This Product Has Been Tested and Meets the Quality Assurance Requirements of the State of Montana” and not “Pesticide Free”. Certification for “Pesticide Free” would in fact prove difficult — the large number of commercially available pesticides (over 500) make this a technically challenging and time-consuming effort, particularly with interferences from the naturally-occurring compounds in cannabis. That being said, Stillwater Labs currently tests for over 159 pesticides, well in excess of the 18 in the current regulations.
No, analytical labs can’t certify materials as organic. This requires a different regulatory body.
Sorry, as an independent lab Stillwater Labs cannot recommend specific providers. However, the DPHHS maintains a list of current providers, and our experience with providers is that they are very capable and proud of their craft. We recommend contacting potential providers to discuss your physician’s recommendations — they will almost certainly be happy to discuss their products and your options.