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What's Really In Your Cannabis Product? 3 Reasons Cultivators Should Measure Cannabis Potency


Cannabis grows in a remarkably diverse set of climates around the world. Whether it is the foothills of the Hindu-Kush mountains to the hot humid jungles of Thailand, it’s possible for cannabis to thrive. Now, growing cannabis that produces heavy resin yields with consistent chemical profiles is a completely different story. In the era of Cannabis 2.0, managing a successful, scalable cannabis grow operation that has predictable, forecastable outcomes is anything but simple. 

To stay ahead of the competition and command the best margins in the market, cannabis cultivators need to make a consistent, high-quality product that also meets standards for safety and compliance. Having insight into cannabis potency is one key to achieving these goals.


What is cannabis potency?

Cannabis potency data quantifies the strength, or concentration, of the different cannabinoids present in the resin glands of the plant. In most states, producers are required to test for THC and CBD, the two cannabinoids that the current market is the most concerned with. Traditional methods of potency testing are performed by third-party labs on final products to verify compliance and provide a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA). However, this potency information is valuable in all stages of the eco-system, from the growth process to the point of sale. 

Let’s take a look at three reasons cultivators should measure cannabis potency in-house in addition to mandated third-party lab testing. 


Identify desired strains

Cultivators have different goals based on the market they serve. Some are growing low-THC, CBD rich strains for medicinal purposes. Others are attempting to maximize THC and specific terpene ratios for recreational adult use. There’s also a growing market for “bespoke” wellness cannabis products with specific THC:CBD ratios tailor-made for different consumer demographics. Many in the cannabis community have long recognized that while these ratios can be created in the processing stream, finding a phenotype that expressed the ideal THC:CBD ratio is best.

On-site potency measurement takes the guesswork out of this process, allowing cultivators to identify specific cannabis strains with their desired levels of THC and CBD. On-site potency won’t take the place of lab testing, but it can help cultivators narrow down which samples cultivators send to test, making much better use of crucial resources. Implementing regular, in-house testing helps cultivators establish trends in potency, saving them time and effort when conducting research and development.


Optimize growing conditions

The best cultivators are attentive and focused on continuous improvement. They pay close attention to the environmental variables that affect yield and potency like light intensity, temperature, humidity and feeding. By testing for cannabis potency regularly in the grow process, cultivators can determine what growing conditions and techniques produce optimal results and make adjustments accordingly. 

This type of testing can also help cultivators determine if new equipment is living up to expectations in side-by-side trials. The ability to test on-site, on a daily basis, gives cultivators the knowledge they need to refine their growing techniques and improve the outcome of their harvest. 


Increase transparency

Implementing in-house potency testing, in addition to working with a lab, can help ensure the safety, consistency and quality of cannabis products. Accurate potency reporting leads to more accurate labeling, which is important for medical and recreational consumers alike. 

Currently, cannabis potency testing requirements vary from state to state, and each lab uses different methods. Having scientific testing technology in-house makes potency data more accessible to cultivators and brings more transparency to the entire value chain, ultimately helping to legitimize the cannabis industry as a whole. 


Get lab-accurate THC and CBD potency results at your fingertips

With the new Purpl PRO Portable Potency Test, cannabis professionals can measure cannabis and hemp samples for THC and CBD potency on the spot, with lab-level accuracy. The easy to use, portable device connects via Bluetooth to any smartphone, enabling users to test sample after sample with instant, reliable results. 

How does the Purpl PRO work?

The Purpl PRO utilizes near-infrared spectroscopy, which involves the sample and to a tageted light source and analyzing the light that is returned. In this part of the light spectrum (just beyond the red light human eyes can see) molecules react to specific regions of the light to generate a “molecular fingerprint” that can be correlated with concentration. The Purpl PRO was calibrated against HPLC measurements from multiple state-certified testing laboratories. Unlike cannabis potency testing methods that require the cannabis sample to be dissolved in a liquid solvent, the Purpl PRO technology leaves the cannabis sample usable after measuring. Best of all, the test cycle takes less than two minutes, allowing up to 30 tests an hour! 

How accurate is the Purpl PRO?

The Purpl PRO is purpose-built for the cannabis market, stating a +/- 2% accuracy on THC and CBD for simplicity. Statistically, it is +/- 1.89% on THC and +/- 0.96% on CBD, determined by comparison with lab HPLC measurements. 

The Purpl PRO is not intended to replace a verified third-party lab CoA for the official testing results required by law; it’s meant to save users time and money in instances where an official test is not required, such as research and development, comparisons between flowers, establishing trends in potency, pheno-hunting, etc. 

Want to learn more about the Purpl PRO? Delta9 Systems is a premier distributor of the Purpl PRO, so you can always shop online here and contact us for details, demos and consultation! 

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Chris Guthrie
Chris is the General Manager of Delta9 Systems, a division of General Data Co. He is an expert in the cannabis industry, having participated in the birth of the cannabis industry in Washington, and has operated one of the first and oldest medical dispensaries in Seattle. For a decade, Chris has participated in the design and managed the construction of dozens of indoor gardens, and has been involved in cultivation, processing, retail operations, as well as industry activism.
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