Cannabis consumers might not know that Washington pot shops are required to provide certificates of analysis upon request. A C.O.A. is basically a one sheet of the test results that came with any particular batch of product as provided by the producer/processor.
Moisture, aflatoxin, yeast, mold, bile-tolerant bacteria – minute amounts of this stuff can be in your pot products. The labs licensed by the state operate differently and test for different things. Medicine Creek Analytics tests for 159 different pesticides. Other labs do not, making testing information inconsistent – but it’s better than nothing, right? The average pot shopper does not know that this C.O.A. information is available and the average pot shop does not have a system in place to provide the information quickly – partially because nobody ever asks for it.
We asked for it, and great time and expense went in to producing this series of articles. The pot shop writer (me) had to be paid, multiple products were purchased in multiple stores and the testing was not cheap either – upwards of $200 per sample, depending on the lab. An analytics consultant was hired and wrote a detailed report (see part 2 of this series: Welcome to the Jungle – With Pot Testing in Washington, Anything Goes). This project pumped money in to the economy! Nobody is getting paid the big bucks to write about marijuana in states where it is illegal. Because those states suck.
Required certificates of analysis are available, sometimes
Most pot shops we visited said nobody has ever asked them for a certificate of analysis. The folks at A Greener Today in South Seattle (disclosure – my favorite local shop) said that before my request only one person (a WSLCB secret spy?) had ever asked for one. They were unable to pull a C.O.A. for a gram of HR OGK from Atomic Budz, but after ten minutes of looking through a binder bursting with paperwork they were able to provide me with a C.O.A. for 3.5 grams of Java Kush from Sweet Water Farms. The wrong C.O.A., though.
The C.O.A. A Greener Today provided stated that the Java Kush had total cannabinoids of 24.5% (THC .3%, THCA 27.4%, CBD .2%). However, the label on the product (harvested 04/10/18) stated that the product was tested at “THC 18.6 %, CBD .1% total 18.7%.” Clearly, this was the wrong C.O.A. for this batch.
A previous 3.5 gram sample of Java Kush from Sweet Water purchased a week earlier at A Greener Today (harvested 03-19-18) had a label that stated THC: 24.3%, CBD .2% total 24.5%.” So, the C.O.A. they pulled for my (7-19-18) purchase actually applied to a previous batch. What would make a consumer like me – who likes high end, high THC products – a little peeved here is that after enjoying this particular product I was compelled to purchase it again – only to find essentially a less stronger, lower THC bud. After having used the first product and liked it, I tested the second product extensively and can assure the reader that I was using a weaker version of the strain.This is nothing like, say, buying a pack of Marlboro Lights and knowing it will be exactly like the last pack you bought.
A gram of Black Afghan from Treehawk Farms purchased on 7-26-2018 could have come with a C.O.A., but they told me it would take fifteen minutes to dig it up, so I bailed. Pot shop writers can’t be wasting their time hanging around all day in pot shops!
What we have in this case is a notable inconsistency with the THC amounts in a product, an inability of a retail outlet to pull a C.O.A., and a retail outlet pulling the wrong C.O.A. for a product. Again – A Greener Today is a great shop, and they say they are working on a system – with no help from the State. Manifests associated with these products are not yet available at topshelfdata.com.
A journey to The Pot Shop in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood produced similar results. The budtender did not know what a C.O.A. was at first and the manager told me they had never had anyone request one. They were unable to pull paperwork for my purchase of a Spot chocolate indica ten pack or a gram of G-Cut from Seattle’s Private Reserve.
Joint Rivers is the only retail outlet in Washington to have a drive-through. The stunning multi-million dollar building – on Muckleshoot Casino property – is the first structure designed specifically to be a pot shop, according to management. During a recent visit (disclosure) to help them with a video project, I asked employee Chris Taylor if they had a system set up to provide certificates of analysis. “Occasionally a batch will show up without one. Nobody ever asks for it, but we developed a system where I can just bring it up on the computer and make a print-out if someone wants it.”
The WSLCB has provided little support for this system — or lack of one – pot shops are dependent on the producer/processors to provide the correct paperwork, and then they are on their own. There is no centralized online system for keeping track of this information. The state might check up on your pot shop to see if you are managing it, or not. Consumers in Washington will get access to legitimate test results, eventually. Or not.
-Alex R. Mayer
August 24, 2018