Hemp - Cannabis Q&A

w/ Matt Madison - Founder & CEO

"After becoming exposed to cannabis in college, and seeing the developments on the West Coast while growing up, I made a decision my junior year as an undergraduate at Brown University to purchase books and begin studying cannabis. As a Christian, I believe that God gave us this plant for far more than the perceived recreational benefit. I opened the first and most experienced cannabis analytical testing lab on the East Coast in 2011 and have dedicated my professional career to understanding cannabinoid medicine and to advocacy work for patient's rights."

Q: What is the difference between Hemp and Cannabis?

A: Hemp is Cannabis. That's the short answer. I'm not sure how this ever became a topic of confusion because it's well documented in books that there are four strains of cannabis: indica, sativa, sativa hemp, and ruderalis (auto-flower). The real difference between hemp sativa and "drug"  sativa is that hemp is legally defined as being below 0.3% in delta-9 THC content. However, many hemp strains frequently test between 0.2% -1% in delta-9 THC. Perhaps in time laws will change to reflect this norm. 

Q: What is the difference between "Indica" and "Sativa"?

A: Perhaps the most misunderstood "fact" about cannabis is the folklore of how indica and sativa are two strains that are distinguished by the type of high they evoke. However, the truth is that they are distinguished by growth pattern and physical appearance. Sativas are equatorial plants that grow in warm climates with long growing seasons and lots of sunlight. These plants have long, sprawling root systems that enable them to soak up lots of needed water. Sativa have a long flowering time and are tall with  large leaves that are long and thin and have lots of internodal spacing to allow airflow. On the other hand, Indica plants originate from higher altitude, more mountainous regions with terrains in which the root systems cannot grow deep and wide, the flowering season is shorter and the climate more cool. Therefore these plants are more compact with short broad leaves and tend to flower much faster, have a greater tolerance for cold, and do not need to drink as much water or grow as tall in order to produce a fat harvest of buds. Here's where the confusion happens; because these plants are grown indoors, fast flowering indicas are often harvested late. This results in very ripe trichomes containing oil that will be potent in THC and be more diverse in trace cannabinoids, and likely to create a sedating, heavy "indica" high. Whereas, sativas take so long to flower that they are often harvested early and the under ripe trichomes will contain oil with a cannabinoid profile that is mostly THC and CBG and will produce a potencially racing and heady high to mellow, light and thoughtful, as typically associated with sativa plants. Sure, genetics play a part, but this plant can easily be manipulated and the point of harvest is a factor that greatly influences the cannabinoid profile.

Q: What are Heavy Metals and why are they important?

A: Concerning cannabis, Heavy Metals usually refers to Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury, and Lead. Medical and recreational cannabis are tested for metals, but plants grown with clean water and bought media indoors are unlikely to have issues that are more common with outdoor grown cannabis, particularly hemp. Cannabis is a known "accumulator plant," great for environmental remediation because of it's ability to pull nutrients (including metals) out of the ground and accumulate them in the tissues of the plant. This has been a particular issue, similarly to pesticides issues, with outdoor farming. Even with "certified organic" farms, due to previous farming on the lands, there can be residual amounts of contaminates remaining in the ground without being known.

Q: What is CBD Isolate?

Isolate is an extremely pure crystalline powder form of CBD. Utilizing chemical separation, isolates are typically around 99% pure, for those who just want CBD without any other cannabinoids present.

Q: What does "Broad Spectrum" mean?

A: Broad Spectrum is hemp oil that has gone through short path, or fractional distillation to create a concentrated distillate. The pressure and temperature of the distillation process will remove the terpenes, and because solvents are used, it is almost impossible to recover and reintroduce the terpenes at a later point. After distillation the oil undergoes a chromatography, or a centrifugation step, to remove the unwanted THC. The result is a terpene and THC-free distillate that still contains significant amounts of trace cannabinoids, therefore making it Broad Spectrum instead of Full.

Q: What does "Full Spectrum" mean?

A: Full Spectrum means that the extract contains everything that was naturally present in the plant material from which it was extracted. Although full spectrum oils are common due to it being easier to extract everything than to be selective, the real difference is whether the terpenes were retained during the extraction. Solvent extraction will not allow full recovery of terpenes.  All of the monoterpenes, as well as many of the sesquiterpenes will be lost during the solvent removal process and will not be recoverable in a comparable manner to solventless or CO2 extraction. At ICS we utilize a local CO2 extraction facility to process full plant, phyto-cannabinoid and terpene rich full spectrum hemp CBD oil. The supercritical extraction process extracts everything and because of the super low temperatures and absence of solvent to be removed, the terpenes are retained! These oils are diluted to achieve compliance with <0.3% delta-9 THC laws. 

Q: What is the difference between "Clean" and "Compliant"?

A: "Clean" in regards to cannabis testing means that nothing was detected (ND). "Compliant" means just that, that the levels observed were below the established regulatory thresholds for compliance. However, consideration should be given to the fact that the limits vary from state to state. For instance, California has much higher allowances for pesticides than the limits established in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which are some of the strictest in the country regarding limits. 

Q: What does "ISO" stand for?

A: International Organization for Standardization. In short, ISO is a type of international accreditation for competency and quality. Use of the standards aids in the creation of products and services that are safe, reliable, and of good quality. The standards help businesses by minimizing errors and waste, and serve to safeguard consumers and the end-users of products and services by ensuring that certified products conform to the minimum standards set internationally. 

Q: What does "GMP" mean?

A: Good Manufacturing Practice. This refers to FDA guidelines for manufacturing and for facilities, equipment, safety, and quality standards. Varying from industry to industry, the guidelines provide minimum requirements that a manufacturer must meet to assure that their products are consistently high in quality, from batch to batch, for their intended use with the goal being to prevent harm from occurring to the end user. Here at ICS we employ a quality management system (QMS) to ensure GMP compliance.

© 2011-2020 by ECL Testing, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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