Should You Be Lab Testing Your Homegrown Marijuana?

Growing marijuana at home is one of the most satisfying hobbies a cannabis enthusiast can have. As a grower, you maintain control over every step in the process, and can complicate or simplify as desired. One of the less fun aspects of home growing is the relative mystery surrounding the contents of your final product. If you live in one of the states with legal recreational weed, you have cheap and easy access to cannabis tested in licensed labs. Most states require that growers test marijuana for purity and potency before offering it for sale in a dispensary. Is there a reason to lab test homegrown marijuana? And if so, how would the average home grower go about doing it?

Perfecting Potency

two homegrown cannabis plants in pots, showing that it might be good to lab test homegrown marijuana

The main reason a home grower would want to test marijuana is to confirm its potency. While THC content doesn't correlate directly with the strength of the effects a strain will cause, it's certainly a large component and potential source of bragging rights.

Knowing your harvest's THC percentage is especially helpful if you intend to infuse food or drinks with cannabis. Since dosing edibles can be tricky even when using THC-labeled weed, it can get downright dangerous when you have no idea how strong your stash is. It's easy to eat one too many brownies and find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, so knowing the approximate percentage of THC in your bud can help you avoid unpleasant experiences. On the flip side, if you know you have a very high tolerance for cannabis, lab testing your weed can help you avoid listless batches of edibles.

If you're interested in breeding your own cannabis, knowing the THC levels a plant produces can help you decide whether to carry on with it or not.

Isolating Other Cannabinoids

cannabis oil tincture on a table with a marijuana leaf next to it

If you're a dedicated cannasseur growing your own, you can gain a lot of insight if you lab test marijuana for terpenes and other cannabinoids. As we learn more about compounds like terpenes, CBD, CBG, CBN, and others, we can better predict the effects strains will have on us. It goes the other way too. If you grow a strain you really love, you might want to know its terpene and cannabinoid makeup in order to select similar strains.

Matters of Mold

condensation on a window showing how mold on weed can happen in a humid climate

Something no grower wants to think about is a moldy crop. Preventing mold on weed is one of the most crucial battles a home grower will fight, since most of us don't have the cash, space, or desire to invest in a fancy auto-regulating system. For outdoor growers and those growing cannabis in humid climates, preventing mold is a bit tougher.

Identifying moldy weed is usually pretty easy with a keen sense of smell as its aroma will take on a distinct mildewy scent. A really bad case of mold on weed will also be clearly visible and distinct from any trichome coverage you may have. But sometimes it's a bit more insidious and hides well within the bud. Even a few hundred mold spores can make you sick, leading to a nasty lung infection. Medical patients are especially at risk.

One reason mold is so dangerous is it can crop up during any point in the process. It can destroy a plant during vegetation and the flowering stage, but it can also strike during the curing process if buds are not expertly trimmed. If you're going to lab test homegrown marijuana for its THC content, it may be wise to throw a mold check in there as well.

How to Lab Test Homegrown Marijuana

doing a test in a lab, showing that you should lab test homegrown marijuana

If you're going to test marijuana, you have to live in a legal state. Even then, it's difficult to find a lab that will test small batches from home growers. In the long established market of Colorado, home growers can turn to The Good Lab for a 10-cannabinoid profile. This lab specifically caters to low-volume cannabis growers, with the sample size being two to three grams rather than the multiple pounds required of commercial growers.

Finding a lab to test your cannabis is usually as easy as Googling your state plus "cannabis testing labs", and searching to find the ones who do small batch testing. Washington is another state where this is fairly simple, due to a long-established market.

Test Your Weed at Home

pile of marijuana nugs on a wood table

If you want to save yourself the trip and some cash, you can also lab test homegrown marijuana at home. There are multiple kits available that allow you to check the levels of THC in your bud. Test 4 Detection Kits, for example, give a range of the THC and CBD content present in your sample. They’re easy to use; you just add a tiny amount of bud to a container and shake it around with the provided fluid. The fluid changes color, and each color corresponds to a potency range on the included chart. These are the most cost effective, and do a pretty solid job.

The more scientific way to go about home testing is to find a thin layer chromatography (TLC) test. These tests require precise measuring and multiple steps to get the result, but the result will let you know your sample's THC content to a single percentage point.

If you're a home grower looking to up your quality and potency game, it's a great idea to test marijuana either at home or in a lab. You may be surprised by the results.