By testing cannabis-infused sweets, researchers realized that chocolate compounds could interfere with marijuana potency tests, which would lead to inaccurate results.
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational cannabis in the United States. They were then joined by other US states and edible food infused with cannabis such as chocolates, gelatin cubs or cookies have invaded the market, to the delight of young people and the great concern of scientists who are struggling to accurately measure their content. And for good reason, according to researchers at a laboratory based in Auckland, California, where recreational cannabis has been authorized since 2018, chocolate compounds could interfere with cannabis potency tests, which would lead to inaccurate results. The researchers will present their results on Tuesday, August 27 at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) currently being held in San Diego, California.
"If an edible product contains 10% less than the amount on the label, California law states that it must be relabelled, with a lot of time and money, but it's even worse if a product tests 10 % or more above the amount indicated on the label - then the whole lot must be destroyed, "says David Dawson, who focused for his study on infused chocolates because of their growing popularity.
"We also noticed, anecdotally, bizarre power variations depending on how we prepared the chocolate samples for analysis," says Dawson. He and his colleagues therefore investigated the effects of changing sample preparation conditions, such as the amounts of chocolate and solvent, the pH and type of chocolate, and the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis).
"It would have something to do with fat"
The results of their experience surprised them a lot. "When we had less cannabis-infused chocolate in the sample bottle, say 1 gram, we got higher THC powers and more accurate values than when we had 2 grams of the same chocolate infused in the bottle," says Dawson. These results therefore suggest that another chocolate component suppresses the Δ9-THC signal.
"Simply changing the amount of sample in the vial could determine whether a sample passes or fails, which could have a huge impact on the producer of the chocolate bars, as well as on the client who might be under-dosed. or overdosed because of this strange quirk of matrix effects (product composition, Ed), "comments the researcher.
To understand which chocolate compound is responsible for these effects, he and his colleagues have added a standard solution of Δ9-THC with varying amounts of chocolate bar, cocoa powder, bakery chocolate and chocolate. white, all of which have different components. "Our best track right now is that it has something to do with fat, which makes sense because Δ9-THC is fat soluble," says Dawson.
Develop standardized testing methods
Researchers would now like to extend their analysis to other cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive substance found in many edible products. They also plan to investigate chocolate chip cookies and would ultimately help develop standardized methods for assessing the activity of cannabis in edible products. "We owe this research to the scientific community, producers and consumers," Dawson concludes.
Many scientists are currently investigating the effects of cannabis-infused foods. Recently, US researchers have conducted work on mice that have voluntarily eaten THC. After eating, the rodents were less active and the temperature of their bodies lower. These effects were all the more pronounced in males, they noted.
Ingesting cannabis is potentially more dangerous
Remember that edible marijuana products often have effects much stronger than a joint because when you ingest cannabis in a food or drink, the latter goes through the digestive system. During the absorption process, THC passes through the liver where it is converted into a more potent form. The normal form of THC, delta-9, is transformed into 11-hydroxy-THC, which crosses the blood-brain barrier with much greater impact.
What's more, a person who ingests cannabis tends to behave more risky than a smoker. "When you eat it (NDLR cannabis), it takes at least an hour, a typical case is someone who is used to smoking who eats a first brownie and, feeling nothing, eats another, then another, and when suddenly the effect occurs, the person is in a state of overdose, "explained Ian Culbert, director of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), to the media in 2017. In June, Canada announced that edible cannabis would be legalized from December.