MJBiz - March/April 2024 - 33

7.3%-or around $200 million-of the
nearly $2.8 billion in sales of hempderived
cannabinoid products
in 2023.
That puts THCA in third place
behind delta-8 sales (44.2% market
share) and hemp-derived delta-9
sales (20.3% market share).
Unlike delta-8 THC and other
hemp-derived cannabinoids created
by chemistry and sold through a
legal loophole, THCA sellers rely
on a combination of well-timed
testing and selective-possibly even
misleading-labeling and marketing.
" There is a very cat's-out-ofthe-bag
mentality around it. Some
people view this as the actual
legalization of cannabis in America, "
said Madeline Scanlon, cannabis
insights manager at Brightfi eld
Group, which recently started
tracking hemp-derived cannabinoid
trends. " Other people view this as
a loophole to be squashed and are
advocating for it. But no matter, it's
out there. People can buy it just like
they would normal cannabis. "
One such business, The
Dispensary, has 13 stores across
North Carolina, Pennsylvania and
its home state of Wisconsin that sell
so-called THCA fl ower as well as
products containing hemp-derived
cannabinoids such as delta-8 THC.
" We defi nitely see the risk, and
we worry about it, " The Dispensary
CEO William Nething, a U.S. Army
veteran, told MJBizMagazine. " But
there are plenty of genetics in the
THCA realm now that can keep you
federally legal. "
The Dispensary also has four
stores in Virginia that don't offi cially
sell hemp-derived cannabinoids
and THCA products since the state
banned them last July. The retail
outlets now sell only cannabisconsumption
accessories and
merchandise such as bongs, dab
rigs, rolling papers and T-shirts
directly to consumers.
The fl ourishing THCA fl ower market in the U.S. is made possible by
multiple entities, chief among them laboratories that test for the
increasingly popular cannabinoid.
Depending on the laboratory and whom you ask, testing labs and
cannabis operators enable the THCA market by taking advantage of
arbitrary and easily exploitable testing requirements, then turning a
blind eye to how the products will be used by consumers.
But some labs and operators, according to Chris Hudalla, founder and
chief science offi cer at ProVerde Laboratories, go one step further
and produce reports that claim the impossible.
Measuring THCA in cannabis fl ower can be done in several ways,
Hudalla said. The two most common are gas chromatography and
liquid chromatography.
In gas chromatography, the temperature of the injection port is hot
enough to decarboxylate THCA into delta-9 THC when the sample is
introduced. The resulting measurement is for total THC, Hudalla said.
Analytical tests for THCA fl ower typically measure delta-9 THC levels
at around 0.1%-0.2%, while THCA levels will generally be 18%-35%.
" That's all marijuana. This new generation of hemp farmers is taking
the exact same marijuana and they are testing it the exact same way.
They even show certifi cates of analysis that show that the delta-9
THC is 0.2% and the THCA is 35%, " Hudalla said.
He believes THCA operators are " cherry-picking the portion of the
law that they want to use and ignoring the rest of the law that negates
their argument and the legality of their hemp products. "
To get around the rule that calls for testing total THC, defi ned as
% delta-9 THC + (% THCA x 0.877), growers claim they can test early
in the 30-day U.S. Food and Drug Administration pre-harvest testing
window, before the THCA has shown up in signifi cant amounts.
But, according to Hudalla, that's not possible.
" What these producers are saying is, 'Well, when I had it tested before
harvest, it was compliant. And now, during that two to four weeks
that it took to get the test results back, to get it harvested and dried,
it now went to 22% total THC.' We call that fraud. There's no plant
that would do that, " Hudalla said.
In some cases, producers send fl ower to the lab where it is tested and
receives a certifi cate of analysis (COA) noting both THC and THCA
results. Even though the COA has accurate numbers, sellers might
convince law enforcement to look only at the delta-9 THC number
and not the total THC, which includes THCA.
There also are some labs that test THCA fl ower from out of state
knowing that the customer will use the valid COA to mislead law
enforcement, Hudalla said.
" These labs don't have any ethics, " he said. " It's not the testing that is
fraudulent. What is fraudulent is them accepting it from outside the
state. "
- Omar Sacirbey
THCA Testing Controversy
mjbizdaily.com | March-April 2024 33
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MJBiz - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBiz - March/April 2024

MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover1
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover2
MJBiz - March/April 2024 - 3
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MJBiz - March/April 2024 - Cover3
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