• Steep Hill

Cannabis Consumer Safety Jeopardized by Labs?

Updated: Sep 21

America’s legal cannabis industry has an obsession with high THC potency. Total THC concentration is a driving factor in cannabis consumers’ purchasing decisions, making it an opportunity for labs to push their ethics aside and reap the financial benefits associated with providing inflated THC potency results. Cannabis consumers rely on product labels and should be able to trust that the product or medicine that they purchase is accurate and reliable. But what happens when the labs testing for THC inflate potency results out of financial interest? The incentivization for labs to participate in THC potency inflation is jeopardizing consumer and patient safety. It is undermining the ethical principles of unbiased, 3rd-party testing to capitalize on a THC-driven market.

The inflation of THC is a widespread issue, laboratories across the US are experiencing suspensions and fines for manipulating potency results (some labs falsifying results entirely) and passing tests with deficient contaminant detection procedures.

“THC inflation is pernicious, it’s easy to accomplish, and there are strong financial incentives to do it,” said Don Land, Chief Scientific Consultant to Steep Hill and professor of chemistry and forensics at the University of California Davis.

If the THC inflation issue is permeating borders now that more states are legalizing marijuana, what impact will this have on future cannabis consumers and medical patients in the US?

What Happens Next?

New York revealed plans for basing the wholesale tax of cannabis on THC content when commercial sales begin in the next upcoming years. The New York cannabis taxes will also be above average compared to those in other states. If this form of taxation wasn’t already complicated, fraudulent THC lab reports make this taxation even more difficult to navigate. Inflated lab tests have severe financial impacts on America's multi-billion-dollar legal cannabis market. If a sample fails its quality assurance testing, the cultivator could potentially have to destroy an entire crop of cannabis. Although this is questionable, the benchmark for wholesale and retail cannabis prices for cured flower products is THC potency. As a result, THC has a strong correlation to the retail price. California's market sells cannabis that tests anywhere from 7-14 percent THC at a lower retail price than cannabis with results over 21 percent THC, according to Flowhub.

As a cannabis consumer or medical patient, your priority should be to ensure your product or medicine has been tested adequately by reviewing the test results yourself – if you’re unsure as to what your results mean, be sure to consult your local Steep Hill lab!

Have you ever felt like your product is not as potent as what is indicated on the label? With an increase in THC inflation in labs, working with Steep Hill labs will ensure you feel confident in the accuracy and reliability of our testing results; in turn, you can rest assured that your customers are getting what they paid for - after all, the higher the THC content, the higher the price.

THC Potency Testing at Steep Hill

Steep Hill makes it a priority to give our customers an accurate understanding of what's in their product. Steep Hill provides reliable test results, backed up by a lab-certified potency report (COA) for up to sixteen cannabinoids, the most common being: THCA, ∆9THC, CBDA, CBD, CBN, and CBG. An extended list of cannabinoids can also be tested for, upon request, and depending on Steep Hill location. Steep Hill’s potency tests provide accurate THC and CBD results because we value the quality and safety of the cannabis products that enter our labs and, ultimately, the end consumer and patient across medical and recreational markets.

In addition to cannabinoid potency testing, Steep Hill offers terpene profiling, microbiological screening, quantified pesticide testing, heavy metals testing, and residual solvent analysis. Steep Hill also offers additional cannabis testing services upon request and depending on location.

Every recreational and medicinal user deserves to know what they’re consuming. Steep Hill works to deliver reliable test results and thorough quality assurance measures to qualify the safety and quality of each cannabis sample.


Black, Lester. (2021, June 29). America's Pot Labs Have A THC Problem. FiveThirtyEight. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americas-pot-labs-have-a-thc-problem/.

Cazentre, Don. (2021, May 17). New York's marijuana tax might not be the nation's highest. But it

may be the most complex. Syracuse.