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Inaccuracies in Cannabis Oil Labels

One of the main benefits of the legal cannabis system in Canada is the testing of cannabis products to ensure they are free of pesticides and other contaminants, and that they accurately describe what is in the container. However, in June 2024, a study led by Dr. Amanda Doggett and published by the Jama Network found inaccuracies in the amount of THC and CBD sold on the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website.

Discrepancies with THC and CDB Amounts

The research took place between November 2021 and January 2022, tracking all oral oil products available on OCS’s website and randomly selected 30 products. The allowable variance for extracts under the Cannabis Act is 15% above or below the product’s labeled amount.  The study notes, “There were discrepancies between information on the OCS website regarding advertised amounts of THC and CBD and physical product labels for 10 of 30 oil products (33.3%). We also found internal inconsistency, with 5 products (16.7%) labeled with discordant THC/CBD (denotes active cannabinoid content) and total THC/CBD (denotes cannabinoid content after product is heated for consumption) concentrations, which should be identical for extract type products. The product with the largest discrepancy was labeled as having 5 mg/g CBD but 26 mg/g total CBD.

“Overall, 12 products (40.0%) were outside the variability limit for THC and 3 products (10.0%) were outside the variability limit for CBD (due to greater labeled vs. laboratory-tested amounts for all but 1 product). Among 16 products that had a label amount of 2.5 mg/g THC or greater, 7 products (43.8%) had amounts that were lower than what was labeled by more than 15%.

“Among higher-potency products (≥2.5 mg/g THC), nearly half were incorrectly labeled as containing THC amounts that were greater than what was indicated by laboratory testing by more than 15%.”

This over-labeling is a serious issue as the industry continues to grapple with overcoming the illicit market. It also presents issue to medical consumers since accurate dosing is very important to them.

The study suggests greater quality control in the Canadian legal cannabis market so consumers can be assured of accurate labeling.

© 2024 Doggett A et al. JAMA Network Open.

Tags: Amanda Doggett (1), cannabis extracts (22), cannabis oil (3), cannabis research (8), cannabis testing (8)