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The Truth Behind THC Potency in Cannabis Products: Are Labels Accurate?



In the United States, cannabis products are required to disclose THC potency on their packaging. However, recent concerns have arisen regarding the accuracy of these reported THC potency values. THC potency plays a significant role in determining the pricing of cannabis flower, influencing its market presence. Reports suggest that some dispensaries may exaggerate THC potency or engage in “lab shopping” to obtain higher potency results. Despite these concerns, a direct comparison between reported potency and actual THC content has not been conducted until now.

A study that was led by Anne Schwabe PhD shed light on the situation as it is. Using advanced analytical techniques like HPLC, the researchers analyzed THC potency in 23 samples from 10 dispensaries across the Colorado Front Range. The results were then compared to the THC potency reported on the product packaging. The findings revealed a striking disparity: the average observed THC potency was substantially lower than what was reported by dispensaries. On average, the observed THC potency was 23.1% lower than the lowest reported values and 35.6% lower than the highest reported values. Alarmingly, approximately 70% of the samples had THC potency levels more than 15% lower than what was stated on the label, with some samples containing only half of the reported maximum THC potency.

While the exact reasons for these discrepancies remain unclear, several factors likely contribute, including the absence of standardized testing protocols, limited regulatory oversight, and financial incentives to market high THC potency products. The inaccuracies in THC potency labeling have far-reaching implications. For medical patients, accurate dosing is crucial for managing symptoms effectively. Similarly, recreational consumers expect the effects of cannabis to align with the price they pay, leading to potential dissatisfaction if potency levels are inaccurately represented. Moreover, these discrepancies undermine trust in the cannabis industry as a whole.

Given these findings, urgent steps must be taken to improve the accuracy of THC potency labeling in cannabis products. As the legal cannabis market continues to expand, it is imperative for the industry to prioritize selling products with reliable and  transparent labeling. This not only ensures consumer safety and satisfaction but also fosters trust and credibility within the cannabis community.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.