Cannabis potency is falling in California

Cannabis potency is falling in California

California's Weed Is Getting Weaker, But It's Not What You Think.

California’s cannabis has long been known for being notoriously strong, but test results from the state’s legal stores show that weed in the Golden State is getting weaker.

Experts say there’s more to the story.

Cannabis potency is usually measured by levels of THC, the most common intoxicant in marijuana. State law requires that all cannabis products be tested for THC content, which means there’s ample data on how strong the state’s weed is.

The median THC potency for cannabis flower has been dropping for the past six months and fell 7% in the past three months alone, according to data shared with SFGATE by Headset, an analytics firm. Headset’s data is based on over 90,000 test results compiled from retail stores and grouped into monthly averages. The median THC potency in December was 30.7%, but as of March 1, it was hovering at 28.5%, according to Headset’s data.

A 7% relative change in THC potency over the past three months may not seem like a lot, but the drop is the result of an ongoing issue with how California labels its pot.

The cannabis potency data printed on pot labels in California has received criticism for years for being inaccurate. Pot shops can charge more money for pot that has higher THC content, and industry observers have accused labs of doctoring test results to give pot companies higher THC potencies. There have been multiple class-action lawsuits filed by customers who say they’ve been ripped off by inaccurate cannabis potency labels and argue this constitutes false advertising on the part of the pot companies.

This drop in THC potency reflected in Headset’s data is simply because it’s getting harder to cheat on THC potency tests, according to Zach Eisenberg, a vice president at Anresco Laboratories, a San Francisco lab licensed to test cannabis. The state ramped up enforcement of lab testing rules about six months ago by issuing more fines and license suspensions and rolled out a new THC calculation method in January. These moves appear to be having an effect, Eisenberg said.

“We certainly heard from customers and potential customers that they’re seeing potency values dropping at other laboratories,” Eisenberg told SFGATE. “Some labs were even proactively saying, ‘Be prepared for our results to be lower after this change.’”

Eisenberg said he expects the trend to continue, with labeled potency falling as older products work their way through the system and newer products are tested under the latest calculation method. There isn’t much of a concern that California’s famously dank pot won’t be able to get you high anymore, though. The weed itself is likely staying the same; just the labeled THC figure is changing.

“I highly doubt anything has changed in terms of the actual composition of the cannabis products,” Eisenberg said.

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Region: California

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