Pot-infused edibles are big sellers in states that have legalized marijuana. The problem is, it's been tough to measure and regulate the potency of these ganja-laced gummy bears, lollies and brownies.
Studies have found that many edible marijuana products in the market contain lower or higher concentrations of psychoactive THC and other cannabinoids than advertised.
And that's bad news for consumers. Treats with too-little THC may fail to help patients who are prescribed the drug for debilitating conditions like chronic pain, and leave recreational users feeling cheated. And too much THC can cause anxiety and nausea, trigger psychotic episodes and land people in the emergency room.
While state officials and independent testing labs are making a big effort to regulate the quality of edibles, these products aren't so easy to study. Pastries and candies made with marijuana also contain sugars and fats that can gum up lab equipment. And often, the THC is not evenly distributed throughout the food, so testers can't be sure they've got accurate results without studying large amounts of the product — which can be time consuming.
At the American Chemical Society conference on Tuesday, one group of scientists presented what they think is a better way to test pot edibles. "Essentially, what we're recommending is to take the cannabis product and freeze-dry it with dry ice or liquid nitrogen," says Jahan Marcu, a senior scientist at the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access who helped develop the new technique.