California

EXCLUSIVE: We tested top Calif. prerolls for potency inflation

By Alex Halperin
Sep 8, 2022
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NOTE: The data in this story was cited in a proposed class action lawsuit against Jeeter.

Correction: This story previously included the same statement twice from Georg Kellert of Landau Labs. For the second test, Kellert said the company stands by its results but didn’t get more specific.

A WeedWeek test of seven California preroll brands suggests potency inflation is close to ubiquitous in the product category. 

Retailers consider potency and price the key differentiators that can move product. THC drives sales, which tilts retailers’ buying decisions towards the most potent flower and concentrates products. This in turn incentivizes brands to “shop” for labs that will give them the highest THC levels.

The practice of lab shopping is widely acknowledged in many legal states. In California’s brutal market, there are signs that it is rampant.

Executives at Infinite Chemical Analysis Labs and Anresco recently published summary data of material previously shared with state regulators. It found that of 150 samples at least 87% of California flower contained at least 10% less THC than stated on the label. Almost 30% came in more than 25% below the label. 

  • A lab called CannaSafe recently cited lab shopping by brands as the reason for closing its only California facility.
  • “If you are an open and honest lab you are suffering severely in terms of your ability to generate revenue,” said Dan Poirier, CEO of Clip Labs, which helped with the tests described below.

To combat the practice, California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) aims to standardize testing methods across the state — the proposal is now in a comment period —  though critics say it won’t stop bad actors.

  • In response to a Public Records Act request, DCC declined to provide relevant documents, citing an ongoing investigation.

The WeedWeek Test

To better understand the problem of potency inflation, I bought several brands of pre-rolls and sent them to labs for testing.

Of the seven brands (and nine total products) included, all of them tested below the THC levels on their label. The implied potency inflation on various products ranged from  14% to more than 500%.

An imperfect experiment

The test suggests potency inflation is widespread in California. However, the results are not sufficient to apply to any individual brand, company, product or testing lab. The tests don’t account for many variables such as how long product had been on shelves, its temperature exposure, the potential for testers’ bias, human error and a host of other possible corruptions. 

For the first round of tests, I provided two labs — Anresco and Infinite — with a single preroll from each brand.

  • Typically potency tests are conducted with a larger volume of product to account for outliers and ensure proper homogeneity in the testing sample.

After sharing the results, I invited the brands to do a second test with a larger sample size. The catch was they had to reimburse me at cost for the necessary amount of product, roughly $150. Two brands, Field and Jeeter, accepted the offer.

  • Anresco and Clip Labs did the second round of testing.
  • All three labs provided their services free.

ROUND ONE RESULTS

NB: In some cases the label indicates a higher THC level than the certificate of analysis (COA) from the testing lab hired by the brand. The implied potency inflation is calculated to the amount on the label.

El Blunto

El Blunto
Via Flower Company

Labelled THC %: 56% (COA 51%)

COA lab: CC Testing Labs

Anresco, THC %:  8.94%

Infinite, THC %: 8.79%

Implied THC inflation: 526%-537%

Company: Albert Einstone’s

SKU: Mon Cheri Infused 4-Pack Cigarillo

Listed price: $45

COA lab comment: No Comment

Brand Comment: No Comment

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Field

Field
via Flower Co.

Labelled THC %: 46% (COA)

COA lab: Bel Costa Labs

Anresco, THC %:  26%

Infinite, THC %: 30%

Implied THC inflation: 53%-77%

Company: Glass House

SKU: Lilac Sugar Live Resin / Diamond Infused 5-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $22

COA lab comment: “We reviewed the data from this sample and are confident in our results.” Myron Ronay, CEO, Bel Costa labs. See here for his full statement and here for a response from Anresco VP Zachary Eisenberg who stands by his results.

Brand Comment: Glass House Brands only works with reputable labs that pass our due diligence, including BelCosta labs who tested this particular batch. We are confident that any numbers on a COA reflect  what is in the product and stand behind it – as does BelCosta (or they would soon be out of business). We would be happy to supply samples of FIELD Infused Pre-Rolls, or any other products, to any third-party lab interested in testing our products. We also have R&D test results for this same batch that show 46% THC. [UPDATED 9/9/22]

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Jeeter

Labelled THC %: 46% (COA)

COA lab: Landau Labs

Anresco, THC %: 23%

Infinite, THC %: 27%

Implied THC inflation: 70%-100%

Company: DreamFields

SKU: Fire OG Diamond Infused 5-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $26

COA lab comment: “A review of provided CoAs shows moisture content analysis was handled differently from Landau Labs…thus final results were artificially lowered.” Georg Kellert, Landau Labs

See his full comment and this response from Anresco VP Zachary Eisenberg. who stands by his results.

Brand Comment: No Comment

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KingRoll

KingRoll
via Flower Co.

Labelled THC%: 47% (COA)

COA lab: Encore Labs

Anresco, THC %: 36%

Infinite, THC %: 33%

Implied THC inflation: 31%-42%

Company: StateHouse Holdings

SKU: Master Kush / Cannalope Kush Infused 4-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $23

COA lab comment: No comment

Brand Comment: “StateHouse follows all DCC guidelines and regulations and reports potency on our packaging listed on the COA.”

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Lowell

Lowell Herb Co.
via Flower Co.

Labelled THC%: 38% (COA)

COA lab: The Niva Labs

Anresco, THC %: 18%

Infinite, THC %: 21%

Implied THC inflation: 81%-111%

Company: Lowell Farms

SKU: The Relaxing Indica Hash Infused 3-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $16

COA lab comment: No comment

Brand Comment: No comment

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Pacific Stone

Pacific Stone
Alex Halperin

Labelled THC%: 23% (COA not available)

COA lab: Unknown

Anresco, THC %: 9.29% 

Infinite, THC %: 8.32%

Implied THC inflation: 148%-176%

Company: Pacific Stone

SKU: 14-pack Blue Dream Prerolls

Listed price: $40

COA lab comment: N/A

Brand Comment: No comment

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Raw Garden

Raw Garden

Labelled THC%: 44% (COA 39% )

COA lab: SC Labs

Anresco, THC %: 31%

Infinite, THC %: 25%

Implied THC inflation: 48%-76%

Company: Central Coast Agriculture

SKU: Caribbean Slurm Diamond-Infused 3-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $14

COA lab comment: “Our concern is that flower is nonhomogenous and testing just one infused preroll across three labs, as was done in this case, does not meet the standards of a properly designed study that would be expected to yield reliable results. Case in point, a result of 25% for an infused preroll is on the extreme low end of the potency spectrum for a high-end product like the one tested. We would welcome the opportunity to participate in a larger, controlled study that employs proper representative samples and design criteria across multiple labs.”

Brand Comment: No comment

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ROUND TWO RESULTS

For the round two tests, Anresco and Clip Labs received an unopened pack of five pre-rolls from each company.

Field

Alex Halperin

Labelled THC%: 48% (COA)

COA lab: Bel Costa Labs

Anresco, THC %: 38%

Clip, THC %: 42%

Implied THC inflation: 14%-26%

Company: Glass House

SKU: Funkadelic Garlic Live Resin / Diamond Infused 5-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $22

COA lab comment: “We are confident in the results provided in our COAs.” Myron Ronay, CEO, Bel Costa Labs

Brand Comment: No comment

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Jeeter

Labelled THC %: 37% (COA)

COA lab: Landau Labs

Anresco, THC %: 26%

CLIP Labs, THC %: 29%

Implied THC inflation: 28%-42%

Company: DreamFields

SKU: Churros Diamond Infused 5-Pack Preroll

Listed price: $26

COA lab comment: Georg Kellert of Landau Labs said the company stands by its results.

Brand Comment: No Comment