Feds have launched a cannabis testing program to help consumers know what they are buying. The program was announced this week by a federal science agency who wants the program to help ensure that the products people purchase from retailers and dispensaries are accurately labeled.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has said that since hemp was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, consumers need to be adequately informed about cannabis products being sold on the market.

The multi-phase project will encourage best practices in lab testing and will be called the Cannabis Quality Assurance (CannaQAP) program. The first part of the CannaQAP effort will involve NIST sending hemp oil samples to participating labs and asking them to “measure the concentration of various compounds and report back.” It added that plant material samples will be sent for testing at a later stage.

The program will be on hemp-derived oils like CBD and officials said it’s possible they will expand the program to test marijuana flower, concentrates and edibles.

According to the press release from NIST, the program is meant to “help laboratories accurately measure key chemical compounds in marijuana, hemp and other cannabis products including oils, edibles, tinctures and balms.”

They added that “The program aims to increase accuracy in product labeling and help forensic laboratories distinguish between hemp, which is legal in all states, and marijuana, which is not.”

“When you walk into a store or dispensary and see a label that says 10 percent CBD, you want to know that you can trust that number,” NIST research chemist Brent Wilson said.

“Those labs won’t be told the concentrations of those compounds but will measure them and send their results back to NIST, along with information about the methods they used to do the analysis,” the release said.

“After collecting responses, NIST will publish the measurements the labs obtained. That data will be anonymized so that the names of the individual labs are not revealed,” the notice states. “However, the results will show how much variability there is between labs. Also, NIST will publish the correct measurements, so each lab will be able to see how accurate its measurements were and how it performed relative to its peers.”

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