Journal Published Online: 21 June 2024
Volume 52, Issue 6

Market Audits Combat Cannabis Misinformation



We demonstrate cannabis products whose contents and safety are mislabeled and we show how active monitoring through off-the-shelf testing and forensic data analysis can dispel this misinformation. We tested products off the shelves of dispensaries in the U.S. state of Massachusetts for their content of cannabinoids, microbial contaminants, and heavy metals. Our results showed that levels of cannabinoid compounds are systematically overlabeled, that flower with forbidden levels of microbial contaminants reaches consumers, and that papers of prerolled joints may contain heavy metals. We demonstrate how the analysis of aggregated test results can pinpoint manipulations of data by bad actors in the testing industry. We evaluated the statistical distributions of results in aggregated cannabinoid analyses from multiple testing labs in the states of Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Michigan. Our results demonstrate a strategy for actively monitoring a market for cannabis to make consumers safer: using periodic testing of products off the shelf to probe overall consumer value, and forensic data analysis to identify bad actors in the cannabis testing industry.

Author Information

Turkington, Victoria
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Kahn, Yasha
MCR Labs, Framingham, MA, USA
Keller, Lacey
MK Analytics, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Willis, John
MK Analytics, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Hamilton, Ava
MK Analytics, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Utech, Hailey
MK Analytics, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Toth, Jamie
Institute of Cannabis Science, Cambridge, MA, USA
Rawson, Jeff
Institute of Cannabis Science, Cambridge, MA, USA
Pages: 12
Price: $25.00
Reprints and Permissions
Reprints and copyright permissions can be requested through the
Copyright Clearance Center
Stock #: JTE20230665
ISSN: 0090-3973
DOI: 10.1520/JTE20230665