Marijuana Quality Control Testing Underway in Bay Area


A group of laboratories in the Bay Area is testing marijuana for something that most food, medicine, and product providers have done for decades: quality assurance.

Marijuana consumers and enthusiasts have always relied on the word of a friend for proof that the product is good (“top-shelf”) or not-so-good (“shwag”). But now, scientists in the Bay Area are able to provide growers and retailers each marijuana strain’s cannabidiol content, THC content, pesticide content, and freshness level.

“There is no reason that we can’t give people a profile of their cannabis the same as we provide information about food, drink, and medications — a label that says, ‘Here is what you’re about to consume,'” Randall Kruep, CEO of Bay Area-based lab Sage Analytics, told the Contra Costa Times.

Krup and his Sage Analytics team use something called a “Luminary Profiler” to quickly and easily determine how high a particular strain of marijuana will get the user. It reportedly takes just four seconds for the Profiler to determine that a sample of “Girl Scout Cookies” contains 26.3 percent THC.

Santa Cruz-based SC Labs, using advanced spectrometry and chromatography machines, are able to determine that a sample of the popular “Sour Diesel” strain contains 24.05 percent THC on average, as well as 20.1 mg per gram of aromatic terpene hydrocarbons, which gives the strain its signature “lemon” smell.

Understanding the exact compound makeup of marijuana strains can help those who legitimately use the drug as medicine know which strains to buy. For example, those with epilepsy would not find much relief using “Sour Diesel,” but would most likely enjoy “Cannatonic,” a strain chock full of seizure-reducing cannabidiol.

“There is a connoisseur market of consumers who really know their compounds and know what they like,” SC Labs co-founder Josh Wurzer told the Times. Wurzer got his start synthesizing molecules for pharmaceutical companies before making silicon polymers for Samsung. After that, he grabbed some friends, spent $120,000 with maxed-out credit cards, and founded SC Labs.

Wurzer and his three co-workers did not collect a paycheck for three years, reports the Times. Now, his company has ballooned to 32 employees testing 8,000 marijuana samples a month, and plan to open a laboratory this month in legal marijuana-friendly Seattle.

“We are providing quantifiable data on the safety and quality of the medicine,” Wurzer told the paper. “Our integrity is critical. It’s all we have. If our numbers aren’t reliable, then what is there?”