A lab technician loads a tray of marijuana samples into a chromograph at CannLabs, a Denver marijuana testing facility, in January 2013. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press file)

There’s something fishy with Alaska’s marijuana potency testing results

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A committee will look at issues regarding the testing of cannabis products amid inconsistency in potency results from different labs, Alaska’s top marijuana regulator said.

Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, told Anchorage television station KTVA she didn’t know how long that process would take.

McConnell, at a recent Marijuana Control Board meeting, recommended a review of testing regulations, citing, among other reasons, evidence of “significant deviation” in potency-testing results of the same product by different labs.

Brian Coyle, CEO of Steep Hill Alaska, one of two testing labs in the state, said THC results from customers who got samples tested at both labs were higher in all 16 samples tested by the other lab, Canntest LLC — in some cases, significantly so.

“High THC is what the customers are seeking. The retailers want it, the cultivators want it, so they can sell their product for a premium, and that’s what brought us to this situation,” Coyle said.

Steep Hill also retested products it bought from retail stores and said it found variations.

The inconsistencies are greater than one would expect between two different labs, Coyle said.

Jonathan Rupp, Canntest’s scientific director, said he has questions about how Steep Hill conducted its tests but also wants to figure out why the results are so different. His lab would never inflate THC results for financial gain, he said.

Canntest, in a statement it posted online, cited a number of potential factors that might contribute to the reported discrepancies but said that “without direct cooperation between labs any differences are difficult to determine.”

Steep Hill has suggested, among other things, using equipment at the state crime lab as a third-party check of test results coming from licensed marijuana testing labs.

Information from: KTVA-TV