Decoding cannabis labels can be difficult, and the variation in label regulations among states complicates things even more. However, these labels are very important. They provide comprehensive and scientific information, including results of mold and pesticide testing. These labels also indicate the levels of THC and CBD in the particular strain. Understanding these labels can provide insight into the nature and degree of the effect that the particular strain will produce. Advising the consumer about the product being either indica or sativa is not enough. It would be more helpful to understand that a strain with only a 3% CBD content may provide a different effect than a 0% product, although it is the same strain.
There is no nationalized regulation of the content of cannabis labels and not all states have strict testing requirements for medical cannabis. Laboratory tested products, however, are still the most reliable and much less likely to contain a contaminated product.
Labels can be simplified with some basic knowledge:
• Total THC or THC maximum shows the total content of THC and the level of psychoactivity of the particular strain. A high THC strain would contain 18 to 20 percent.
• Edible products show THC amounts in milligrams. Inexperienced users may want a 10 milligram dose of THC, while 20 milligrams would be considered a large dose. Medical marijuana users tend to consume edibles with 100 milligrams.
• THCA is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, which is THC in raw, non-psychoactive form. THCA becomes psychoactive when it is heated, smoked or baked. The amount of THCA on the label indicates the level of psychoactivity when heated.
• CBDA is cannabidiol acid, and the label shows the CBD potential. Like THCA, this is raw CBD. When heated, it becomes non-psychoactive CBD. Due to the medicinal components of CBD, a higher amount will indicate a less intense effect.
• If the label lists other cannabinoids in the strain, the product may be extremely strong. A wide cannabinoid diversity will provide more potent effects.
• Terpenes are responsible for the flavor and aroma of cannabis products, and are sometimes intentially removed. Myrcene, terpinolene, and limonene are terpenes that may be specified on labels.
• Residual solvents are a byproduct of extractions and are left behind in the product. If the level of solvents is high, so is the risk of harm. Propane , benzene, xylenes, and butanes are solvents that must be tested.
Labels are also important for understanding potency and knowing the amount of pesticide and insecticide residue. Mold and mildew are tested in cannabis products to ensure consumers will not be exposed to aerobic bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, molds, yeasts, and bacterial colonies.
• Moisture content reveals the potential for fungi or bacteria in the product. Above 15% is a high moisture level, while below 5% will likely result in a dry, less quality product.
Similar to the nutrient labels found on food products, knowing exactly what goes into our bodies is key to a happy and healthy experience. Basic knowledge of terms can remove the mystery from cannabis product labels.