Whether you’re looking for strong medical power or a euphoric high, it’s helpful to know the levels of THC and CBD in your cannabis leaves, hash or concentrate. In many cases, if you buy your product at a dispensary, regulations require that it is labeled with THC and CBD levels. If you grow your own or get your cannabis from friends, however, you want to make sure you’re getting the potent product you’re looking for.
There are both at-home methods and professional labs that you can turn to for testing CBD levels and measuring THC.
Lab Methods for Testing CBD Levels
Cannabis producers generally obtain information about the potency of both THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that leads to a “high” sensation, and CBD, which produces pain-killing and medical effects. Depending on your needs, you may want a strain that’s high in either or both. Given the widespread growth of the legal cannabis industry, more labs than ever offer THC and CBD testing.
The most common method used is High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), which separates and analyzes the chemical components of a liquid solution. Cannabis flower is mixed with ethanol or another substance and then pushed through a tube that collects a small portion of molecules in the sample.
A detector at the end of the tube is designed to measure the level of UV light each substance absorbs.
These measurements have already been established for specific molecules, like THC and CBD. They travel at different speeds and are detected at different times, allowing the system to gain a full chemical picture of the cannabis sample.
At-Home Tests for THC or CBD Levels
You don’t have to go to a lab, however. You can also test CBD and THC levels at home. In most cases, you’ll simply want to pick up a CBD/THC home test kit to do the job. There are a number of options, and they range in price from around $20 to $100.
The simple at-home test kits from Alpha-Cat, CB Scientific and Cannalytics all work well for people who want to get to know more about the composition of their cannabis. Most use a form of thin-layer chromatography or a home-level version of the lab-testing technique.
Make sure to read the instructions for your specific test before starting. Most test kits come with multiple tests, so you can test a few strains. You’ll also have a second chance in case there is a mistake.
- Open the vial provided and put a small amount of marijuana (less than one-fifth of a gram) inside.
- Add the drops of testing solution, as specified in your instructions, to the vial.
- Close the vial and shake it for 5 to 10 seconds.
- If you’re using a slide, transfer drops of the solution to the slide as specified in your kit’s instructions and then wait for the specified amount of time.
- If you’re using a vial-based kit, wait the specified amount of time, typically around 10 minutes.
- You can then compare the results that you see on your slide or vial to the color charts provided for CBD levels and THC levels.
Labs for Your THC or CBD Testing
You can also hire a laboratory to test your cannabis for THC and CBD. Here are just a few of the labs that offer these services.
- Botanica Testing, based in Florida, offers lab tests for an array of cannabinoids, including THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and CBC. They can also test for terpenes as well as contaminants.
- CW Analytical, based in California, offers tests for the potency of THC and CBD as well as potential contaminants and produces extensive reports.
- ProVerde Laboratories in Massachusetts and Maine offer THC and CBD testing, terpene profiles and product safety tests for both consumers and producers of cannabis.