Jeff Journey, CalMatters Guest Contributor and SC Labs CEO
Most Californians can simply walk into their local, licensed cannabis dispensary and purchase a variety of products. Few consumers read each product’s label and make a decision on what to buy. Too often, they are actually in the dark about what they’re buying.
Research shows that a product’s price, THC percentage and a budtender’s recommendations are the primary things consumers look for. There has been a disproportionate focus on THC percentage – partly due to the inaccurate notion that potency is directly correlated with quality, and partly due to the lack of awareness about the important role of terpenes and other cannabinoids.
If consumers remain fixated on THC potency, some businesses are willing to deceive customers because they can charge more. High THC cannabis products sell for a higher price, which has encouraged bad-actor cannabis businesses to shop around for similarly bad-actor testing labs that are willing to use bad science or commit fraud to manipulate results. The industry refers to this practice as ‘lab shopping.’
A knowledge gap is normal for new industries, but this is not the case in more mature substance markets like alcohol. Most people do not focus solely on the alcohol content when they buy a bottle of wine. Instead, they consider the varietal, the region, the flavor profile and, of course, the price.
Cannabis is not there yet, and it certainly doesn’t help that, in legal markets, regulators only require companies to disclose THC and CBD percentages on recreational and medicinal products. This inadvertently affirms the consumer belief that…