As of January 1, 2014, medical use of marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois. Recreational use became legal in 2020. Whereas recreational users are not allowed to do so, medical marijuana patients are permitted by law to grow up to five plants in their homes. Whereas this can be a cheaper and more convenient alternative to visiting dispensaries, the resulting plants may have questionable or even potentially harmful compositions.
Why Test your Homegrown Marijuana?
Medical marijuana’s uses include treating numerous disorders, ranging from anxiety to cancer. This is mostly thanks to the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes, the active ingredients that generate various responses within the body. Terpenes work in conjunction with cannabinoids by increasing the speed at which they are absorbed within the bloodstream. Depending on the cannabinoids and terpenes present, this interaction can produce different results, known as the entourage effect.
Entourage effects can be beneficial, resulting in increased appetite, reduced nausea, all the way to cancerous cells shrinking. However, these effects can also skew negative, such as the loss of coordination, hallucinations, or memory and learning problems. By testing the potency and distribution of the cannabinoids and terpenes present in their plants, growers will gain more accurate dosing and usage information, resulting in a safer experience.
Screening and Testing
The best way to avoid a potentially harmful situation is to have the marijuana plant or product tested. Having cannabis tested provides growers with detailed and accurate information on their plants’ composition, allowing them more awareness of the inherent entourage effects. This information will help treat their ailments in a more precise and effective manner.
In addition to testing for cannabinoids and terpenes, analyzing cannabis also provides other pertinent information for home growers. This includes screening for homogeneity or the even distribution of active ingredients to ensure that each dosage is equally beneficial and effective for the user.
Another useful test is for water activity and moisture content. Though relatively safe on its own, a higher moisture level in the plant may provide a breeding ground for harmful growth.
Potential Dangers for Home Growers
In addition to gauging the compositions of cannabinoids and terpenes, many of the tests screen for potentially dangerous materials in marijuana products, including fungi, bacteria, or other microbiological impurities. These mycotoxins can cause a range of problems from the plant’s decay to health issues for the patient.
Lab testing can also identify a variety of other unwanted substances in cannabis. These can range from relatively harmless yet undesirable debris, such as sand and bugs, to more dangerous contaminants, including lead and arsenic. These heavy metals have been linked to respiratory failure and cancer in some patients.
Other pollutants that testing can identify are vitamin E acetate, also linked to lung and respiratory failure, or residual solvents like butane and chloroform, which have been linked to kidney failure.
Research and Development
Another service lab testing can provide is product development (R&D). By submitting a sample, home growers can measure the quality of their growth and adjust their cultivation techniques accordingly. This allows for higher yields with a decrease in failed batches, making better use of time, energy, and resources.
While cannabis use has many medical benefits, it is essential to recognize the active chemicals and compounds present. This allows medical marijuana patients to make the most out of the plant’s potential. Growers should also acknowledge the potential dangers present in the end product. Maximizing yields and growth can also help save time and resources for home growers. The best way to do all of this is to have the plants and products tested in a lab.