Medicinal Marijuana: Testing for chemical composition key to usage, says company

"It's important for people to know what amounts of the active ingredient they have in their product..."

  • Apr. 8, 2016 8:00 a.m.

If you receive medicinal marijuana through a licensed producer in Canada, the product will have been tested for its chemical make-up and to identify the compounds that are present in the product.

But if you are purchasing product through a compassion club or a dispensary, the chemical make-up of the marijuana could be untested for quality.

According to Keystone Laboratories in Edmonton, it’s this testing that is crucial for the use of medicinal marijuana as a way for people to know what’s in the medicine they are taking and to ensure they are taking high quality medicine each and every time they use it.

“It’s important for people to know what amounts of the active ingredient they have in their product,” said Jodi McDonald, the founder and president of Keystone Labs, which tests medicinal marijuana for five commercial producers that are licensed to grow by Health Canada. “The analogy I like to use is any type of prescription your doctor prescribes you, you want to know what is in each pill you take. Health Canada requires the pharmaceutical industry to make sure each pill is safe. For licensed marijuana producers it’s the legal requirement (to get tested). They must show the product meets the Health Canada requirements.”

Keystone labs is working with Justin Pearson (see story) to test the samples of cannabis oil he sends them as part of a UBCO research project. Pearson says quality control in medicinal marijuana is something not to be taken lightly.

“There are many compelling examples of the effectiveness of cannabis oil in the treatment of various ailments, from cancer and MS to epilepsy,” said Pearson. “But we also know that the success depends much on the cannabinoid profile, something that is not offered or required to be provided.”

At Keystone, the lab says it is developing a test kit that could be used by individuals to test their marijuana product to find out exactly what is in it. If people found something that worked, they would know what ingredients are having an effect.

“Everything else in the modern medical world, you don’t take things not knowing what the active ingredient is,” said McDonald. “Testing is critical so they can know what they are taking.”

For more information on testing of medicinal marijuana go to or email



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