The potency of marijuana products has become a point of contention for a California pot purveyor who is facing customer litigation over its pre-rolled joints.
The two Southern California customers claim that the products they purchased from the company are reported to have a very high level of THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, of course, is the compound in pot that gives users that feeling of being high. Plaintiffs accuse the defendant cannabis company of false advertising, negligent representation, and unfair competition.
As our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers can explain, the California Department of Cannabis Control expects cannabis companies to label their products with accurate information regarding the THC content within. That can be expressed either in milligrams or as a percentage. Per state cannabis regulations, labeled content is required to be within plus-or-minus 10 percent of the actual amount.
Plaintiffs allege that because consumers of cannabis are typically willing to pay a premium for products that have a high THC content, companies that fudge the numbers on THC content are cheating consumers and engaging in unfair market competition. In an independent analysis of the THC content, plaintiffs say the the joints sold by the defendants had far lower TCH content than advertised. In effect customers are overpaying for product that is far weaker than claimed.
The defendant cannabis company and its subsidiary responsible for producing the products at issue say that the claims are without merit and “ridiculous.” The company says its practices are in compliance with state-required cannabis testing requirements – and that includes blind testing by an independent third party laboratory.
The company’s website indicates that the strongest pre-rolled joints it sells have a THC content that is a minimum of 30 percent. However, plaintiffs say that despite advertising certain products as having more than 45 percent THC, independent lab tests revealed them to contain as little as 23 percent THC.
The Pressure to Present a Premium Pot Product
Producers of legal cannabis products are undoubtedly under a great deal of economic pressure to produce high-content THC products. Unfair competition from the black and grey markets is an ever-present issue, and higher THC concentration in legal products means higher prices.
And while it is true that the state requires independent lab testing, there is concern on the legal side that some cannabis firms may be engaging in a bit of “lab shopping.” Labs that consistently seem to report higher THC potency on the products they test may find themselves with a larger customer base. This has created an incentive both for producers and testing labs to push for higher potency testing results. At least one lab took to social media with express claims about how their testing methods consistently yield 2-3% higher potency levels. In a bullet-pointed list of advantages, the company noted fast turnaround, reliable results, reasonable pricing, and “great potencies.”
That is certainly the sort of evidence that could be presented in a lawsuit alleging inflated potencies. But it also underscores some systemic issues. Individual businesses competing with impossibly cheap black market competitors are just trying to stay afloat. Should pricing be set on factors other than just THC concentration? Cultivators and distributors have incentive to shop for labs with consistently higher potency results, though they do have some plausible deniability in terms of knowing whether the lab results are truly accurate. Labs are under a great deal of financial pressure as well. Meanwhile, state regulatory authorities have done little to address these incentives – or reward companies that strictly toe the line on accuracy.
Our team is committed to representing cannabis cultivators, producers, labs, and dispensaries facing such allegations.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.