Large amount of available cannabis edibles makes testing tough

DES MOINES — The number of edible cannabis products in Iowa and surrounding states has created problems in trying to figure out which ones meet the state’s guidelines for legal medical use.

Kelli Flanagan of the Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab spoke to the medical marijuana program board Friday, and says edibles pose a volume problem. “We would have to test every different type of edible out there. And as you know, things like gummies, and the suckers, brownies, any type of vegetable like that they have very high complex matrices,” she says.

She they do analysis of plant materials or concentrates each product requires a dedicated optimized sample preparation.
“So for every edible out there, we would have to have a separate procedure. Now with that, every procedure then needs to be validated according to our accreditation guidelines,” Flanagan says. She says developing those procedures is time consuming.

“Just for getting the procedure involved for plant materials, and the concentrates that I spoke of earlier, took approximately four to six months just to get to the validation procedure,” according to Flanagan. “So now you can imagine how cumbersome that would be to do it for every possible matrices out there.”

Flanagan says they reached out to the DEA and found federal officials face the same issue. “Essentially, they’re saying the same things that I’ve just said that developing and validated quantitative THC and THC-A methods for the hundreds of sample matrices out there is almost impossible. And they tend to focus, as they say, in the last line there, they tend to prioritize the other controlled substances that they get in on a daily basis, such as fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin and etcetera,” she says. Flanagan says the DCI has taken the same type of focus as federal officials on the issue.

She says another issue is the number of products and their size and trying to figure out the total THC by weight. And they can’t determine whether the source of the cannabinoids are naturally occurring, or whether they were synthetically produced “In court should we have to testify to this, we would not be able to determine the source of the cannabinoids that are present, whether they were naturally occurring, or the or whether they were synthetically produced,” Flanagan says. “CBD can be converted to Delta 8 with heat. And so does that make it synthetically produced? That’s just one of the problems we run into, because we can’t really answer that question with any degree of certainty on that.”

Flanagan was invited to speak because of the questions the board gets about the legality of edibles. The Bureau Chief of the medical cannabis program says the edibles sold legally under Iowa’s programs are tested by the State Hygienic Lab to certify that they meet state standards.