Chocolate Ingredients Throw Off Cannabis Potency Tests


Chocolate may be messing with cannabis potency testing, scientists are warning, and it could mean packaged edibles are understating THC content. 

A new study finds chocolate appears to interfere with the ability to measure THC

“a matrix effect”

Pot brownies may be stronger than you think

That means THC levels on some cannabis product labels may not be accurate

Most of the time, the THC potency levels listed aren’t an entirely accurate representation of how much THC is actually packed into the edible

Our best lead right now is that it has something to do with the fats, which makes sense considering that delta-9-THC is fat-soluble

A study published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) found that chemical components in chocolate might be interfering with cannabis potency test results.

The findings come from researchers at CW Analytical, a California-based lab founded in 2009 that predominantly tests materials for marijuana growers, manufacturers, and dispensaries, in legal markets. 

CW Analytical focused its research on cannabis-infused chocolates because of the chocolate’s popularity as an ingredient in edibles. The study did not disclose the size of the samples.  

“My research focuses on cannabis potency testing because of the high stakes associated with it,” said David Dawson, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator, in a release.

The results have shown that a component in the chocolate may be suppressing the signal for THC, causing “a matrix effect” in testing.

This means the more chocolate in a given test can show a lower THC percentage.

This interference is leading to inaccurate results for THC percentages in edibles produced with chocolate.

“When we had less cannabis-infused chocolate in the sample vial, say 1 gram, we got higher THC potencies and more precise values than when we had 2 grams of the same infused chocolate in the vial,” Dawson explained. “This goes against what I would consider basic statistical representation of samples, where one would assume that the more sample you have, the more representative it is of the whole.” 

In lab testing, the concentration of THC is measured by what is called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). So what’s causing the suppression of THC percentages?

The researchers at CW Analytical are trying to determine which components in different types of chocolates — chocolate bars, cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, white chocolate — are causing the HPLC signal changes. “We also noticed, kind of anecdotally, some weird potency variations depending on how we prepared chocolate samples for testing,” he said. Dawson studied the effects of altering sample preparation conditions, such as the amounts of chocolate and solvent, pH, and type of chocolate.

The effects of edible testing inaccuracies cost cannabis business owners time and money.

“If an edible cannabis product tests 10% below the amount on the label, California law states that is must be relabeled, with considerable time and expense,” Dawson said in the release. “But it’s even worse if a product tests 10% or more above the labeled amount — then the entire batch must be destroyed.”

Are Marijuana Edibles Safe?

With all the talk about cannabis nowadays, you may have a budding curiosity about marijuana edibles. Here are some details on what they are, whether they are safe and some product selection tips.

a close up of food: edibles and munchies.

 edibles and munchies.

To be safe, here are some tips to consider:

  • Read the label.
  • Talk to your doctor or health provider.
  • Start low and go slow.
  • Keep the product out of reach of minors.
  • Know who you’re buying from.

Marijuana edibles are any orally consumed product that contains cannabis, specifically THC, which is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is a chemical compound in cannabis that’s associated with producing a “high.” It also can affect memory, thinking and time perception. An edible product also may contain CBD, short for cannabidiol, which is another chemical compound in the cannabis plant that’s known for its relaxing qualities.

With the explosion in the cannabis market, you can find edible marijuana products like gummies, baked goods, chocolate, beverages and tinctures, among other forms, says Jay Denniston, director of science for the cannabis product company Dixie Brands in Denver.

Traditionally, everyone thought about marijuana as being inhaled. Now, “there are all sorts of ways to get marijuana into your body,” says Dr. Adhi Sharma, chief medical officer at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, New York. Sharma is an emergency medical physician who specializes in toxicology.

A person may try a marijuana edible product for recreational use (it’s legal for that purpose in 11 states and Washington, D.C.), but it’s frequently used for medical purposes as well, says Andrew Smith, an assistant professor at Touro College of Pharmacy in New York.

There are currently 33 states where medical marijuana is legal. The most common use for medical purposes is for pain relief, but it’s also used to help improve appetite, reduce nausea and lower inflammation, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Are Medical Marijuana Edibles Safe?

The answer to whether medical marijuana edibles are safe depends

a lot on the product that you’re getting.

If you buy an edible product from a registered dispensary, the products sold there must undergo various safety tests, Denniston says. These include tests for unwanted ingredients (like heavy metals) and tests that show the product actually contains what’s stated on the package. Testing also can measure if the dosing within the product is consistent – in other words, you get the same THC concentration in each bite you take, Denniston says.

However, even if you buy a product from a legal dispensary, the dose used can make a big difference in safety or your experience. “There are concerns with edibles because it takes a while for the effects to show up,” says Kevin Boehnke, a research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and at the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan⁠—Ann Arbor.

Dosing Issues

When you inhale a cannabis product, for example, you’ll feel the effect almost immediately. In contrast, think of an edible product more like an extended-release medication, where you may not feel the full effect for a couple of hours. Many people who don’t feel something right away will be tempted to take more of the product. “Especially for products that are packaged like candy or cookies, that’s pretty appealing,” Boehnke says. The end result? The effect may hit you all at once and be too strong.

If you use too much of an edible product, you could feel very tired, slightly delirious or become agitated or paranoid, Sharma adds. He has seen patients come to the emergency department because family or friends were concerned about their loved one.

It’s also easily possible to miscalculate dosing with a cannabis product. A September 2019 case report in the New England Journal of Medicine shared the story of a 52-year-old man with a brain tumor who inadvertently received a dose 10 to 20 times higher than recommended of a highly concentrated liquid marijuana. He ended up in the emergency department with acute delirium and garbled speech, according to the report.

“People don’t realize how concentrated these doses can be,” Smith says. Dosing numbers often get confused by patients, he adds.

Access to Young People

Then there’s the risk of young people using a marijuana edible or any cannabis product. Because the brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25, cannabis use isn’t recommended in people under that age, Smith says. If it’s used in a younger person, there can be a higher risk of irreversible schizophrenia or psychosis, particularly if there’s already a genetic risk for these conditions, Smith notes. Research published in 2014 in the journal Schizophrenia Research supports this.

Health Reasons to Avoid Edibles

If you have any of the following health issues, you should probably avoid marijuana edibles:

  • Schizophrenia.
  • High blood pressure.
  • History of heart attacks.
  • History of substance abuse.
  • Anxiety.

There are certain people who should avoid marijuana edibles or any cannabis product due to certain health conditions. Those with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia may be at a risk for worsening anxiety with the use of cannabis products, Smith says. He also steers people away if they have underlying high blood pressure or a history of heart attacks, due to any risks for bad side effects.

If you think of yourself as an anxious, high-strung person, cannabis may not a good choice as it could leave you feeling more anxious, Denniston says.

If you have a history of substance abuse, you’ll also want to proceed with caution. “It’s important to have a good doctor and patient relationship to figure out when it might be judicious to use cannabis versus when it’s not a good idea,” Boehnke says.

Just like with medication, not everyone will have a pleasant experience with a marijuana edible, based on their state of mind or their metabolism. “Everyone metabolizes cannabinoids differently,” Boehnke says.

Legal Issues

Finally, there’s the legal standpoint. Cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. In some states it’s legal for recreational and medical purposes. In other states it’s legal for only medical use, and in some states it’s completely illegal. Driving while high from marijuana is also dangerous because it can affect your judgment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Tips for Using Marijuana Edible Products Safely

If you decide to try an edible marijuana product for medical or recreational use, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Read the label. You may not always read the label on the cereal you buy at the store, but label reading is an essential part of selecting a cannabis edible, Denniston says. The cannabis industry requires a good deal of information on the label so you know the dosing of THC and/or CBD in the product. The label also can tell you if the product has been tested by a third-party lab for safety, which is something that is good for companies to have done. A good dispensary will have dedicated staff – sometimes called “budtenders” – who can help explain a product to you, depending on the experience you want, Boehnke says. “For those who are cannabis-naïve, education through a one-on-one consultation is really important,” he says.
  • Talk to your doctor or health provider. Are you hesitant to talk to your doctor about cannabis use? You shouldn’t be, Boehnke says. Even if your doctor doesn’t recommend cannabis use, it’s better that they are in the know about your cannabis plans. Your doctor may steer you away from edible cannabis products due to any health conditions you have or medications that you take that could be risky to mix with cannabis.
  • Start low and go slow. With a steady, slow approach, you don’t run the risk of using too much. With a normal dose being 5 to 10 milligrams, take a 2.5 mg dose and wait 90 minutes if you are new to using cannabis, Smith suggests. If you don’t feel any effect after that, you can try another 2.5 mg. Be careful with your dosing. This is another time when label reading comes in handy. If you have a brownie with, say, four doses of 2.5 mg each, make sure you’re taking just one-fourth of the brownie and not eating the whole thing.
  • Keep the product out of reach of minors. This is an issue that needs more attention, cannabis experts say. “It’s nearly impossible to keep minors away from the liquor or medicine cabinet,” Sharma says. Now that could creep over to cannabis products as well. Keep products under lock and key. In fact, if you use it recreationally, keep the product in a house where no kids are present, Sharma suggests. Both he and Smith have seen incidents where kids have consumed cannabis-containing gummies, not knowing that they contained a drug. If you have teens in the house who know you use the product for medical reasons, have a conversation to state why you use it and why they must avoid it, Sharma says.
  • Know who you’re buying from. There are both legal and illegal dispensaries, and it’s not always easy to know which is which, Sharma cautions. Products at a legal dispensary will follow state-specific rules regarding safety and testing. If marijuana is legal in your state, check your state government’s website for a list of registered dispensaries.

Why are people eating CBD and will it get me high?

Cannabidiol, or as it’s better known CBD, is a legal cannabinoid (chemicals found in cannabis) and can be sold in the UK.

It’s not the psychoactive cannabinoid that gets you high, called THC. Instead it’s a product believed by its high-street users to have medicinal properties, such as relaxation and pain-, nausea- and anxiety-relief, although studies are not conclusive.

What is it doing in food?

So why are we increasingly seeing CBD-labelled coffees, cakes and croissants in shops, cafes and restaurants all over the UK?

CBD is normally sold in combination with a base oil, such as olive or coconut, as a supplement, vape, gel to be applied to the skin and more recently, in food and drink.

“Businesses have picked up on growing public awareness and have been promoting their products online, in high-street retailers and increasingly in food and drink,” says Professor in Substance Use, Harry Sumnall, Liverpool John Moores University. We spoke to chefs at two restaurants who use CBD on their menus in completely different ways.

“CBD is actually hard to cook with. It has a disgusting taste”, says Greg Hanger, head chef at Kalifornia Kitchen in London, who has created an entire CBD afternoon tea. Greg pays attention to the type of oil that the CBD is mixed with, saying “coconut oil CBD is great in Thai cooking balanced with coriander, ginger and lime. Olive oil CBD is great for Middle Eastern foods like hummus or you could even mask the flavour with rosemary and put it in cheesy sauce or mashed potatoes.”

“CBD tends to work well in foods with a stronger, earthy taste, such as chocolate and coffee”, says Meg Greenacre, head chef at Erpingham House in Norwich. “I’ve been inspired by menus in London to create a delicious CBD brownie for our customers here. I was surprised that during taste tests, no one could tell which brownie the CBD was in and actually, most people thought it was the batch that did not contain it. I am looking into adding CBD to more sweet bakes such as nutty flapjacks and beetroot chocolate cake, which naturally have a deeper and richer flavour, complementing the earthy, almost bitter, taste and smell of CBD oil.

“When you cook with CBD, you have to be careful not to heat the mixture at too high a temperature”, advises Meg. A search on CBD websites brings up details of CBD evaporating and losing its ‘health’ properties past 160–180C, though “there is also little understanding of what happens to CBD when you cook it or add it to a drink”, says Professor Sumnall

Is CBD a miracle cure?

“There is a greater public awareness of the potential therapeutic uses of medical cannabis and cannabinoids such as CBD, particularly in light of the UK government decision to permit some cannabis prescriptions in response to high-profile campaigns by the families of children affected by severe epilepsy,” says Professor Sumnall.

“The emerging UK CBD industry, inspired by the successes of the legal cannabis industry in the USA, has adopted a similar marketing strategy, and whilst the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency rules mean products can’t make direct health claims without going through formal licensing, the language of ‘wellbeing’ allows them to bypass regulation.

“But there is no good scientific evidence that these consumer products have any real benefits.

“Many of the CBD products available on the high street contain so little CBD that you would need to consume vast quantities to even approach some of the doses that are administered in clinical trials of medicines”, concludes Sumnall.

Coffees and cakes may contain between 5–10mg of CBD. But clinical trials administer doses of around 100–1,500mg per day, with medical supervison.

However, it is not clear whether it would be advisable to consume higher doses of CBD than is currently in these products. “I do worry that if people believe a small amount is good and it’s completely safe, they may believe a large amount is better, says Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director of Patient Info.”

“The problem we have is there hasn’t been enough research and we just don’t know”, Jarvis continues.

This is currently not a regulated market in the UK and so there are no rules on the quality, source, or content of CBD in these type of products, said Professor Sumnall. Michael Wight, Head of Food Safety Policy for The Food Standards Agency said, “We are not aware of any significant safety concerns related to CBD, but as part of the ‘novel foods’ authorisation process they do need to be evaluated for safety. We are continuing to actively monitor food safety aspects of CBD. If we find credible evidence to say that CBD extracts in general, or specific products containing CBD, risk harm to the public, they will be removed from sale.”

Is CBD safe?

According to a report from the World Health Organization, CBD doesn’t exhibit the effects indicative of substance abuse or dependency in humans, like THC can, and has a relatively low toxicity. “To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”, it says.

“Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous,” says the NHS. If you choose to buy CBD in any form, it is best to choose a reputable company.

#cbdcakes @cbdcakes cbd cakes uk

Cafe says brownies mixed with cannabis plant extract are a hit with customers

It is a treat you might expect to find in one of Amsterdam’s infamous coffee shops, rather than inside a Norwich cafe.

But brownies mixed with a cannabis plant extract are now being sold at That Cafe on St Augustines Street – and they are proving popular with customers.

The chocolate brownies were added to the cafe’s menu following the introduction of hot drinks infused with cannabidiol (CBD) earlier this year.

CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in cannabis plants which some believe can help with a range of conditions from anxiety to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Following the popularity of the infused hot drinks, the family-run cafe has now added it to its homemade brownies

Barista Sarah White said: “It hasn’t got the psychoactive element of the plant, so you won’t get high off it.

“It just helps relax your muscles, whereas other people use it to help with anxiety.

“You would be surprised how many elderly people come in and ask for it.”

Ms White said the brownies contain 24mg of CBD oil and are mixed with vegan chocolate. Once baked, the oil cannot be tasted.

While almost all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD is not and can be sold in the UK.

Other items on the menu containing the oil include coffees and hot chocolates.

While it is tasteless in the brownies, tea made from CBD oil has an earthy taste.

“It is brilliant for relaxing”, Ms White said. “And we have had no negative feedback.

“We do get the odd person come in and say ‘are you the stoner cafe?’ and I have to say ‘I think you’ve come to the wrong place’.”

A World Health Organization report published in summer 2018 concluded cannabidiol is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile”.

The report found there was no public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.

Some believe it can help with various medical conditions, but there are no conclusive scientific studies on this.

Cafe owner Chris Featherby said he introduced the CBD infused hot drinks as his mother has MS and found it helped with her condition.


A coffee shop in Glastonbury is offering customers a different kind of morning buzz on top of their usual caffeine kick.

Customers at Coffee Zero on High Street, can now upgrade their be

verage to a CBD-infused hot drink for an extra £1.50.

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabis plant extract which some believe can help conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to arthritis and heart disease.

John Lintern, the owner of Coffee Zero, introduced the drink to the menu

They plan to expand the range if it is successful, there could even be ice cream!

CBD can be consumed in many ways one of which is through food.

Today, many cannabis edibles are available from biscuits, and cakes to teas, and gummies.

Compared to other intake methods, cannabis edibles can be easier and better.

The relief provided lasts for longer

it takes CBD edibles minimum half-hour and maximum one hour to deliver results.

However, the effects of cannabis eatables last longer than other delivery modes.

Since CBD in treats is combined with other food items, it takes its time to release in the bloodstream.

This is because food is slowly digested. Compared to inhaling weed, the effects of edibles can last for two to four additional hours.

There’s also no need to worry about overdosing in this case as you are aware of the amount of CBD added to each serving. In fact, you can also find a range of CBD treats to buy from market shelves.

It has lower psychoactive effects

There’s no risk of lung irritation