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Cannabis Products and the Need for Potency Testing in California

Concept of cannabis plantation for medical, a scientist using tablet to collect data on cannabis  indoor farm

Following the legalization of cannabis and decriminalization across the 42 states, different cannabis products with different potencies are being introduced into the market. But many manufacturers do not test for potencies of cannabis products, and some others mislabel their products, all of which often cause abuse and serious effects on consumers.

Luckily, the Phase one lab testing, which became effective January 1, 2018, has made it mandatory for all cannabis products to pass through cannabinoid potency testing before going into the California marketplace.

And at Belcosta Labs – one of Southern California’s leading cannabis testing labs in California. Our team of experts, including nationally renowned experts, has set standards for accurate testing methods.

We make use of Ultra high-performance Liquid Chromatography with a Diode Array Detector, and our potency testing method is ISO-accredited by A2LA and fully validated. 

This makes us a leader in cannabinoid profiling and cannabis potency testing in California. You can schedule potency testing with us today.

Now, you might be wondering, “What is Potency all about?” let’s discuss that briefly

Testing Cannabis Potency: What Does it Involve?

Potency testing considers the total amount of cannabinoid present in a cannabis product. This includes its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) content, and other phytocannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabigerol (CBG), etc.

Basically, cannabinoids interact with our bodies’ endocannabinoid system (ECS) through the endocannabinoid receptors to produce psychoactive and non-psychoactive effects.

The potency level of a cannabis product will usually determine the kind of effect it produces in the body, hence, the need for regulation.

Different Cannabis Products Available Today

Originally, there were only marijuana flowers, but due to advancements in research and applications, there are now many cannabis products available.

In addition to flowers, there are now edibles, oils, distillates, extracts, and more. These products usually contain varying amounts of cannabinoids, especially THC, which determines their potencies.


This is the unprocessed form of cannabis and it consists of dried buds of the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants.

THC potency in herbs varies widely, depending on the strain. 

Cannabis indica strains are high in THC and low in CBD, making them produce a sedating and relaxing effect.  On the other hand, Cannabis sativa strains are low in THC and high in CBD, making them produce an energizing effect.

Flowers are often called weed or pot, and it often has a strong pungent odor, both in the ordinary state and while it is being smoked.

Growers and cultivators today now use selective breeding to increase their flower potency.


Edibles are cannabis derivatives and their potencies can vary widely, depending on the manufacturer.

However, you should always keep in mind that legal cannabis edibles are highly regulated, especially those intended for medical use. THC is often measured in milligrams and not percentages.

In fact, in California, over-the-counter edibles shouldn’t contain more than 10mg of THC/serving (and at most 1000 mg per package). This opposes the 1,000 mg allowed for vape cartridges and recreational concentrates.

Hash (Hashish)

This is a concentrate produced mechanically by isolating resin heads. In other words, hash is the hardened resin of the cannabis plant. These products usually come in sheets, blocks, and balls, and look like grainy chocolates.

The water-purified hash is often called “bubble hash” or “bubble melt hash” because it is more pliable.

Hash’s potency varies also, but it always ranks higher than flowers.


Various extracts are often derived from hash oil through solvent extraction. Some good examples include:

  • Wax – A semi-solid cannabis extract that’s opaque in nature. Their looks differ, anyways, based on their thickness and texture. Some look like crumbly ear wax, while some looks like cake batter (badder)
  • Dab – This is a small amount of concentrate users burn and inhale, though some vape it.
  • Shatter – A solidified butane hash oil (BHO) with a glossy look and amber in color. It might shatter when it drops, hence, its name.
  • Crumble – This refers to a solid, opaque THC extract with a crumbly texture.


This is the unmodified hash oil, representing a liquid form of hash. It can be concentrated or distilled to form THC oil.

The true distillates, however, are pure and more potent than concentrated, oily forms. Distillates are extra refined to remove additional compounds, and the final product often gives up to 99% pure cannabinoid.

Little wonder, distillates are often described as the purest of pure cannabis oil in their activated form.  Consumers either smoke distillates, put them under the tongue, dab them, or ingest them in capsule form.


Tinctures are cannabis products made by soaking the cannabis herb in a weak solvent like alcohol, MCT oil, or glycerin.

These products are flavorful and popularly consumed in edibles. However, their potency levels are often quite low.

Consumers need to be aware of the potency levels of any cannabis product they’re adding to their routine. And the cannabinoid profiling should be clearly shown in your certificate of analysis as a manufacturer.

Hence, no matter the cannabis product you’re producing or offering to consumers, the California compliance testing mandates testing cannabis potency by a certified third-party laboratory.

Why is the Potency Level Very Important?

Consumers need to understand the amount and ratio of cannabinoids in the products they are purchasing.

Several studies have shown that a high potency, beyond the limit, can cause mental health problems when used, especially over time. 

In fact, some consumers can’t stand a single hit of concentrated forms of cannabis products. It may lead to paranoia, psychotic episodes, depression, suicidal ideation, and sometimes schizophrenia.

It is no longer news that cannabis is much more potent these days, as manufacturers are coming out with diverse derivatives of this plant.

Unsurprisingly, most consumers are now looking for trusted brands with transparency in their third-party testing results. People want to trust cannabinoid profiling and be sure of what they’re adding to their routine.

Belcosta Labs offers Quality cannabis potency testing in California, and our procedure is fully validated and ISO 17025 accredited by A2LA – the prestigious accrediting body.

You can schedule potency testing for your cannabis and cannabis product(s) with us today!



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