Benefits Of Hemp And Cannabis Testing

Cannabis sativa is the cultivar from which hemp, medical and recreational cannabis is derived. Hemp and cannabis used as medical marijuana are similar but not the same. Hemp is legal in all fifty states and cannabis is not legal in a few states and is still not approved at a federal level by the United States. The legal aspects make it necessary to test hemp and cannabis products to comply with various statutes of regulatory bodies. 

Cannabis plants contain more than a hundred chemical compounds also known as cannabinoids. The psychoactive cannabinoid delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to give the ‘high’ or the intoxicating effect. Interestingly, cannabidiol (CBD) does not have the intense effect that is associated with cannabis. The only way to differentiate between different cannabis-derived products is through hemp testing and cannabis testing in laboratories. 

Benefits Of Hemp And Cannabis Testing

Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). 

USFDA’s stand on cannabis

Although there are ambivalent views on the acceptance of cannabis by thirty-seven states for medical or adult-recreational purposes and federal legislation is still stringent about a blanket approval of the product, USFDA understands the potential demand for cannabis. Cannabis can be used for a variety of medical conditions as a curing drug. Whereas hemp products are marketed for maintaining health just like supplements for essential vitamins and minerals.  

The regulator is aware that countless therapies involving the use of cannabis in the treatment plan can give hope to patients with unresolved medical needs through existing or traditional treatment plans. Keeping in view the relevance of usage of cannabis in medical treatments and understanding the potency of various cultivars that are classified as schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), FDA approves scientific research under a controlled environment to substantiate research to treat critical illness like cancer, AIDS and major autoimmune diseases. 

Approval from other agencies

If any organization is proposing clinical research with cannabis-based substances for possible cures of diseases that have high mortality rates and no available relief from existing treatment plans, then other federal agencies are involved. 

Special permissions from the DEA need to be taken to grow cannabis in a controlled environment for clinical trials. If there is a need, DEA can allow additional growers to grow medical-grade cannabis to be supplied only for research purposes. 

Difference between hemp, medical-grade, and adult-recreational cannabis

If a cannabis product has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol then it is given the status of hemp. There is one cannabis-derived drug and three synthetic forms of cannabis-related drugs approved by USFDA to be used for medical purposes. There is no major difference between medical and adult-recreational cannabis in terms of composition at the molecular and genetic levels. However, the difference in tax and purchase limits is implied by the classification of medical versus adult-recreational cannabis. 

It is reiterated by the above points that the proximity in genetic composition, the near low margins of THC concentration to be classified as legally accepted hemp, and the tax and purchase controls that guide medical and adult-recreational cannabis rules make it necessary to avoid legal complexities and penalties of different states. 

Let us check other essential benefits of hemp and cannabis testing that all stakeholders should consider seriously:

  • Compliance

The razor-thin margin of 0.3% concentration of THC that gives hemp its status is difficult to maintain consistency for even expert growers who take all the necessary precautions. Understandably, compliance is a challenge for most growers of hemp. However, FDA is aware of these conditions and does not penalize them for thin variance in the margin. But, it does expect any product with a THC concentration above 0.3% to be destroyed and not sent into the open market or pharmacy shelves. 

The differentiation of medical and adult-recreational cannabis is important. Though FDA-approved cannabis-related or derived drugs are only four, some states have been lenient and conducting clinical trials for cannabis-derived drugs to combat serious illnesses. Only nineteen states have so far approved the use of cannabis for adult-recreational purposes strictly to be sold in moderation to persons above the legal age limit of 21 years. 

Compliance with different state regulations will help determine hemp from a potent cannabis derivative strictly classified for medical or recreational use. The USFDA approval and nomenclature of new drugs in formulation stages also require stringent testing procedures to be followed at various stages of the crop. 

  • Potency testing

Potency testing reliably determines the quantification of cannabinoids. A grower should not be guessing when to harvest a crop. Rather testing the crop can eliminate the doubt. And cannabis crops can be harvested before the stage where the concentration of THC can increase per yield. 

  • Contamination

The hemp or cannabis crop is subject to contamination from many harmful sources such as microbial action, heavy metals, and residual pesticides on the crop. Any product that is manufactured which is afflicted by any adulteration through the proliferation of harmful and unsafe impurities will drop the value of the crop or make it worthless for safe usage by humans and animals. 

Various tests like chromatography, polymerase chain reactions, and spectroscopy are used to determine the potency and safety of the cannabis products that meet the guidelines of all the law agencies and different state rules that are not uniform but are still liable for compliance. 

Summing up:

The cannabis and hemp industry is new and owing to the discrepancy of legislation between federal and state laws, there is scope for wrong marketing. Hemp and cannabis testing in a reliable lab that uses protocol recommended by the regulatory bodies and keeps its resources dynamic to adapt to changing laws is a desirable step for all the stakeholders like growers and consumers. 

With FDA opening up to several suggestions, chances for the growth of the hemp and cannabis industry are possible but considering mixed perceptions, testing at every stage will help in developing best practices in the industry for future benefit. 

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