Does Humulene Kill Cancer Cells?

Because of ongoing federal prohibition, formal studies that could “officially” quantify the medicinal applications of cannabis have not kept up with anecdotal reports from consumers. Cannabis is believed to help a wide range of conditions from epilepsy to nausea and sleeplessness to anxiety. It is also thought that cannabis could be a tool in cancer treatment, a disease that  takes the lives of approximately 607,000 Americans each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Taking the cannabis plant as a whole, there are thousands of compounds that work together to deliver its ameliorative effects: cannabinoids, flavonoids, and aromatic compounds called terpenes, which gives cannabis (and other plants) its signature smell. That lovely smell of pine during the holiday season? You can thank pinene for that. Or how about the lavender essential oil you use to calm yourself down before sleep? That’s linalool.

Other terpenes common to the cannabis plant are limonene (lemon), beta-caryophyllene (pepper), and myrcene (lemongrass), though there are others, each providing strains with their own unique scent signatures and healing benefits. 

One terpene in particular that we haven’t touched on yet may prove to be useful in the fight against cancer, and that compound is humulene. Some research shows that this fragrant and healing compound may kill cancer cells. But is that true? Let’s have a look at this versatile terpene. 

Humulene’s History in Medicine

If you’ve recently had a beer you’re familiar with humulene, formerly known as a-caryophyllene. That’s because humulene is responsible for the hoppy and tangy taste you associate with your favorite brewski. But humulene is not only found in beer, it is also present in ginseng, ginger, and sage. 

Humulene’s therapeutic applications go back thousands of years. Its presence in beer alone dates more than 5,000 years back to ancient Mesopotamia, and its use in Chinese medicine as an energy booster, appetite suppressant, and natural antibiotic goes back for millennia.

Recent studies on humulene back up this ancient intuition. One study found that in small quantities, it was able to kill S. aureus bacteria, more commonly known as staphylococcus, a common bacteria which can nonetheless be fatal for some populations. It was also shown to be an effective analgesic and antibacterial agent. 

Researchers also uncovered anti-cancer properties. In fact, when humulene was studied working together with other compounds, the combination inhibited cell growth by up to 90 percent, depending on the pharmacology and substance. Another interesting find showed that humulene is as effective an anti-inflammatory as the corticosteroid dexamethasone, currently being utilized for the most critically ill in the treatment of COVID-19.

The Wrap Up

While some research has shown us that humulene can inhibit cancer cell growth, it’s very important to remember that this research has not been carried out on humans. If you or a loved one has or has recently been diagnosed with cancer, reach out to your doctor immediately to have a candid conversation about how cannabis could be an additional tool in their medical care.

How much humulene is in your cannabis? Find out with a terpene profile from The Good Lab. We test for the 22 most common terpenes in cannabis/hemp. Contact us to get started.

Thanks to The Pot Guide for this informational article.

Pinene: The Anti-Inflammatory Terpene That Helps Respiratory Conditions

Of the 200 aromatic terpenes possible in an individual strain (or cultivar) of cannabis, pinene is the second most common behind myrcene, and the most frequently appearing in the plant world.

Like many other terpenes, pinene is available in two varieties, alpha and beta (the former being the most common in cannabis). This naturally occurring molecule conveys the highly recognizable aroma of a pine forest; its exact floral composition depends on the other terpenes present. Alpha-pinene smells light and fresh like pine, while beta-pinene smells a little spicier.

Also found in basil, orange peel, parsley, pine, and rosemary, pinene is an effective insect repellent (one of the primary evolutionary roles it and all terpenes play for the cannabis plant) and is a constituent component of turpentine. It is commonly used, in both naturally harvested form, and as synthesized industrially, in the fragrance industry.

The Details of Pinene

Like other major terpenes, the medical efficacy of pinene is multifaceted, offering anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even dermatological benefits. Pinene has even been found to be a valuable ingredient in topicals for the treatment of acne.

This important terpene has also been shown to improve energy levels and mental focus, making it popular among knowledge workers and hard-driving creative professionals. In addition, pinene works well as a bronchodilator, making this terpene valuable for those suffering asthma and related respiratory conditions.

Pinene is an excellent example of the effects of the entourage effect, a theory that terpenes and cannabinoids interact in special ways to amplify, buffer, and otherwise modify the efficacy of one another — including their overall aggregate effect.

For those who may have consumed too much of the infamous psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), pinene acts as a buffer, helping prevent panic attacks and other negative responses to becoming “too high” or “spun out.” This special terpene can accomplish this feat only because it is one of the few molecules permitted to cross the extremely selective blood/brain barrier, where it can modify the binding affinity and interaction of cannabinoids like THC with the CB1 receptors found in the brain and central nervous system.

As an anti-inflammatory, pinene offers gastrointestinal protective properties, making it a potential antiulcerative and a recommended terpene for those suffering from conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The Research

Multiple studies reveal pinene to be an effective and powerful anti-inflammatory agent and bronchodilator, giving it special efficacy for those with arthritis, gastrointestinal conditions, and even cancer.

January 2015 study entitled “Gastroprotective Effect of Alpha-pinene and its Correlation with Antiulcerogenic Activity of Essential Oils” and published in the journal Pharmacognosy Magazine concluded that pinene is an excellent treatment therapy for sufferers of various types of ulcers and other digestive conditions. “Our data showed that α-pinene exhibited significant antiulcerogenic activity and a great correlation between concentration of α-pinene and gastroprotective effect,” reported the study’s researchers.

May 2015 study published in the journal Scientific Reports and entitled “Hippocampal Memory Enhancing Activity of Pine Needle Extract Against Amnesia” concluded that “Pinene could be a potent neuropharmacological drug against amnesia” and other diseases related to memory, retention, and recall.

How much pinene is in your cannabis? Find out with a terpene profile from The Good Lab. We test for the 22 most common terpenes in cannabis/hemp. Contact us to get started.

Thank you Cannabis Aficionado for this information-filled article.

Marijuana Math: Figuring Potency by Fill Weight

Figuring potency based in a complicated formula for something like an infused topical or edible can be daunting. Often there are several different ingredients with different densities that make the calculations difficult and confusing. There’s a much easier way: Fill Weight.

The Fill Weight is the actual weight of the product. For topicals that would be the weight of the product in the container. For a cookie that would be the weight of a single cookie.

To find the weight in a container simply weigh the container empty, fill it with a known amount of product, and weigh it again. Subtract the weight of the empty container from the weight of the filled container and you have the fill weight. Pretty simple, huh? As long as you put the same weight of product in each container, your potency should be the same each item.

Here’s an example:

An empty 60ml jar weighs 5 grams. The total weight of a filled 60ml jar is 45 grams. Subtract 5 from 45 to get the fill weight: 40 grams. That means the weight of the product inside the jar is 40 grams.

Let’s say the product tested at 2.0% CBD.
First, convert grams to milligrams. 40 grams = 40,000mg
Multiply milligrams by percentage. 40,000 X 2.0% = 800
There’s 800mg of CBD in the 60ml (40g) jar of product.

Here’s another example:

A cookie weighs 4 grams and tests at 0.15% CBD
4 grams = 4,000mg
4000 X 0.15% = 6
The whole cookie has 6mg of CBD.

So how much does your product weigh?

That’s not always an easy answer, at least not if you’re in the United States. Unlike most of the world, the U.S. uses the imperial system of weights and measures rather than the metric system. Where this gets in the way (or weigh) is when an ounce isn’t really an ounce.

The imperial system uses “ounce” to indicate both weight and volume. But a one-ounce jar of lead doesn’t weigh the same as a one-ounce jar of water, and ten ounces of feathers will take up more space (volume) than ten ounces of water, so you have to know what you’re talking about.

The weight of a tincture in a one-ounce bottle will vary depending on its formula. This gets particularly complicated when it comes to topicals where ingredients are often whipped together with air taking up space without adding weight.

We work in the metric system, and if you’re producing a cannabis product, you should too. It’s so much easier to keep weight and volume straight during formulation when you’re talking milligrams and milliliters.

If you need to convert ounces to milligrams, there are some great calculators online that make it easy.

Get a good scale

The real trick is having an accurate metric scale that measures in milligrams (.001 gram). The accuracy of your scale can really skew your results. If you want us to figure your Fill Weight, simply send an empty jar along with the full jar to be tested and we’ll weigh, compare and make the calculations for you.

Now you know how to figure potency by Fill Weight. Pretty simple and pretty useful.

Go forth and formulate good products. And remember to get them tested at The Good Lab.

The Good Lab’s Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Samples and packages may be slipped through the mail slot or left in the dropbox next to the door.


Hi friends,
We’re doing fine here at The Good Lab. We hope that you are doing fine too and are successfully navigating the ever-changing environment we all find ourselves in these days.

As you may or may not know, Governor Polis issued an executive order related to Covid19 for the state of Colorado that has been in place in one form or another over the past year. We’re taking that order seriously and encourage you to as well. We’re still testing samples as much as ever, but are limiting in-person contact. To protect ourselves, our customers and our community we’re giving folks the safer option of mailing (hemp/CBD only) or dropping off samples without coming into the lab. 

If you do come into the lab, please know that we are requiring masks. If you don’t have a mask, we have disposable masks on site. In light of continued community spread and new variants of the virus, we are limiting face-to-face contact to small groups. As always, we are available to meet with you by phone or online. Contact us to set up an appointment. For your convenience, we have a large mailslot and secure package box where samples can be left, even after hours.


For information on how to mail samples to The Good Lab, please go to Be sure to include the Chain of Custody with every sample.

Drop off:

You can drop samples through the mail slot or leave them in our drop box next to the door. Be sure to text or call to let us know you’ve mailed or dropped off. Again, be sure to include the Chain of Custody with every sample. You can print them off our web site, or we have some outside the door for your convenience.

New Customers:

Please complete the New Account Information Form on our website before submitting samples. If you need to talk to us about your sample or results, we’re happy to do that by phone so give us a call at (720) 245-8323.

Recognizing that we work with a vulnerable population (patients and caregivers), we started putting safety measures in place at the end of February 2020. 

UPDATED May 2021:

  • We started sanitizing the lab and the common areas of our building at the end of February 2020, which we continue to do regularly.
  • In March and April 2020, we passed out spray bottles of 70% alcohol to all the other offices with offers of free refills.
  • We limited access to the lab in March 2020. We now allow visits with small groups of customers and associates in the front reception area.
  • We installed a larger mail slot for drop-offs and packages. We have a drop box next to our door for larger packages.
  • Packaging and forms are available next to our door for your convenience.
  • We require masks and expect to continue for the time being. Please, if you are visiting the lab, remember your mask. If you forget, we have disposable masks available.
  • We were sanitizing all packages before they were brought into the lab, but find that protocol unnecessary now. We do, however, wipe down surfaces afterward. 
  • We have plenty of gloves, alcohol and hand sanitizer available to keep things clean.
  • Fortunately, we live nearby. We were working from home most of the time during the shutdown, but are back to spending most of our time in the lab as we’ve gotten busier.

As the situation changes, we want to reassure you that we will continue to operate. People need access to cannabis and hemp, especially patients and caregivers, and we need to continue to provide a safe resource for them. The public’s health and safety are of the utmost importance to all of us.

Most every business in our building was closed at some point during the pandemic, but have reopened with varying success. Slice420, where many of you stopped for pizza when dropping off samples, has been open for pickup and delivery and has an outdoor eating area in the parking lot, so come by and support this cannabis-refugee-family-owned business. 

This is a difficult time for everyone, but by working together and being flexible we will get through it together. For now, practice social distancing, wear a mask, stay safe and wash your hands.

Best wishes and good health,

Teri and Greg

General Tips for Everyone: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze and wash your hands immediately after. 
  • Wear a mask covering your mouth and nose.
  • Stay home if you or someone in your household is sick. 
  • Practice social distancing. 
  • Be wary of travel to highly infected areas. 
  • Get vaccinated.

Here are some important links with additional information from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, Centers for Disease Control, Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division websites: 


Hemp History: Defining Hemp vs. Marijuana


Historical Considerations For Hemp: Defining Hemp Versus Marijuana

As America embarks on creating an industry utilizing hemp in textiles, medicines, food, environmental remediation, and other numerous applications, it is important to consider what defines hemp from its cousin marijuana. Both plants come from the Cannabis family while the main difference between these two species is their genetics that determine their physical characteristics and the chemicals they produce at different ratios including terpenes and cannabinoids. It can be difficult to tell these differences apart for many people including law enforcement and legislators.

Hemp’s history is closely tied to marijuana in Colorado’s drug prohibition laws. Henry O. Whiteside in his book Menace in the West eloquently describes how marijuana became stigmatized and outlawed in Colorado beginning in the 1920s. Racism and fear fueled drug prohibition efforts lead by federal narcotic agent Harry V. Williamson who suggested that a “Mexican shootout” in Denver might have been caused by marijuana. Williamson also warned that marijuana made its users “quarrelsome and often desperate.” Public attention at the time turned to what Hispanics using marijuana might do in the state’s cities and migrant camps. The press and public officials seized on this fear and racism to significantly shape the legislative and judicial response and Colorado helped stoke marijuana’s reputation as a drug of addiction and menace.1 Hemp due to its close relation often gets lumped into the stigmatization of marijuana and one that still exists today. It should also be noted that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC, was not discovered until 1964 when Raphael Machoulam along with his colleagues isolated and extracted this cannabinoid.

Today, as drug laws are reforming we should also consider history when forming policies. For Hemp History Week we can look at current hemp policy and what defines hemp. Colorado defines hemp as cannabis having less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis and current federal policy uses this definition. This general definition is commonly used but where did it come from? According to Dr. Ernie Small, a Principal Research Scientist at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Ottawa, the definition is completely arbitrary and based on the THC content in standard-grown material in “young leaves of relatively mature plants in Ottawa and analytical techniques.”2 This analysis lead to the adoption of the 0.3% THC standard commonly used to define hemp versus marijuana.

As the hemp industry matures and becomes more sophisticated, it’s important to remember history and how regulations came into existence. Creating sensible legislation and avoiding stigmatization and fear can help guide an industry with tremendous potential with well documented environmental and health benefits that could benefit the community. Laboratory testing also informs the public as to the components in a product and helps people make informed decisions. Accurate, standardized testing also plays an important role in the cannabis and hemp industry to define these plants.

Happy Hemp History Week!

Mark Angerhofer
Research and Development Chemist

1 Whiteside, Henry O. Menace in the West: Colorado and American Experience with Drugs, 1873 – 1963, Colorado Historical Society: 1997.
2 Small, Ernest, Cronquist, Arthur, 1976, “A Practical and Natural Taxonomy for Cannabis”, Taxon, 25(4) pgs. 405-435.

When NoCo Hemp Expo 2019 Is Your First NoCo Hemp Expo

Greetings, fans of The Good Lab! I’m Joe Zemek, the Lab’s outreach coordinator. I’m what many of y’all recognize as an industry newbie: I’ve supported hemp and cannabis legalization from the sidelines, and, in my previous political work, by connecting candidates with knowledge and endorsement opportunities. Now, I have taken the plunge into working in the industry, to play a more direct role in supporting and promoting hemp in Colorado and nationwide. As with any entry into a new industry, there is A LOT to learn, so I was very excited about my first NoCo Hemp Expo.

The attendees fill the floor!


We knew the event was gonna be big, following the Farm Bill, the move to the larger venue, and the completely full parking within a mile of Crowne Plaza. Even so, when we walked in, my bosses Greg and Teri gasped – it was jam-packed, we were sardines in seconds. Decked out in our tie-dyed lab coats, we waded into the loud crowd to find our friends and meet new people.

On the floor of the exhibitor hall, the variety of 225 exhibitors spanned each aisle: seeds were sold next to soaps, farm equipment next to legal services, tinctures next to extractors. From the massive GenCanna space set apart from the aisles as an island in the floor, to the smallest booths for grassroots folks like Hemp Fuel Group, you could find just about anything short of a graphene production setup. Here’s the floor plan and exhibitor list from the program.

So began a day of slowly negotiating the aisles, having conversations, exchanging business cards, weaving between folks, forgetting to take pictures, and trying to remember what I was learning as I was learning it. To a newbie, everything is impressive. There is tremendous competition and variety among CBD retailers. Tincture bottles were omnipresent.

It was also fun when my political buddy, Governor Jared Polis, toured the aisles following his speech to the Business Conference, taking some time to chat with attendees and participate in selfies.

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 3.40.18 PM
The news caught my dyed side


Concurrent with the exhibition floor were numerous talks and presentations in three separate conference rooms separate from the floor. On Friday, these presentations were for the Business Conference; on Saturday, they were for the Farm Symposium. After the hectic and massively extroverted nature of Friday, I was glad to be able to—after doing the rounds and taking some pictures in the morning—sit down and listen to panels and speakers in the conference rooms on Saturday.

First though, I had to choose. Organic Regenerative Agriculture, OR Best Farming Practices?  Evolution of Hemp Genetics Panel, OR Industrial Vs Cannabinoids Checklist To Success? This is why one event, even as comprehensive as NoCo Expo 2019, isn’t nearly enough for the beginner. Even someone with plenty of knowledge under their belt looking to expand would have at some point faced a difficult choice when looking at their program and choosing a session. This is a good problem to have… but it is still kind of a problem.

In a lineup of passionate speakers, the most impassioned speaker I listened to Saturday was native activist and hemp farmer Winona LaDuke. With the hemp industry on the rise, we have an opportunity to ensure that native farmers, producers, and business people are included and valued in all facets of the hemp industry.  If hemp is seen as just another opportunity to get rich quick, we will forsake its promise to help change and perhaps even save the world. Native voices are critically important to uplift as we form our growing and producing communities that will insulate us from Big-Business-as-usual when it inevitably comes to buy out small farms and take over the hemp industry with conventional economies of scale approaches, and all the dehumanization that comes with that.

At the end of the presentations on Saturday, I was beat and ready to go home and try to remember everything I had learned. On the way out I stopped by 710 Spirits to say hi to my friends Liz and Cortland, who tried to get me to come to the after party with enticements of karaoke, which I love, but not when I am zapped. Next time, though, when it’s less overwhelming, absolutely.

We’ve posted more photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages. I hope you’ll take a look. And if you want to talk hemp, especially about how The Good Lab can help you, I’m available.

Client Stories: Carolina Mom

People come to The Good Lab for a variety of reasons. A farmer who wants to make sure his hemp is compliant. A doctor who wants to tell her patient how to dose a homemade tincture. A dad who moved here from another state to treat his son’s inoperable brain cancer. An extractor who wants help dialing in the efficiency of his process. A product developer who wants to be sure her formulation is right.

Every client has a story. Some are funny. Some are educational. Some are tragic. All of them illustrate the need for a lab that can test for everyone. It’s harm reduction. It’s information. Knowledge is power.

Greg answered the Lab phone only to hear a frantic woman with a southern accent on the other end. She explained that she and her husband had flown to Colorado from North Carolina because their son had been put under a 72-hour hold for observation. He’d been found on the neighbor’s front porch alone, naked and babbling incoherently.  Frightened, they immediately flew here to help him, but didn’t know where to start. She was terrified, thinking her son had suddenly developed a serious mental illness.

The mom told Greg they had searched her son’s room looking for anything that might give them a clue about what was going on. They found some plant material they assumed was marijuana, but had no way of knowing for sure. They were afraid it was too potent or contaminated. They’d called around to several industry labs but they all said they couldn’t help. Finally one of them referred her to us at The Good Lab. We told her we would test it right away if she could bring it to us.

While her husband stayed with their son, she drove to Colorado Springs from Denver with her little bag of plant material in her purse, hoping for an answer.

When she arrived, she pulled the little plastic bag with crumbled plant material in it out of her purse and handed it to Greg. He took one look at it and smiled, then handed it to me asking, “Does that look like weed to you?”

I opened the bag and opened it, immediately recognizing what I saw. “Nope,” I replied, handing it back. Now I was smiling.

He took a closer look, still smiling, then looked up at the worried mom and said, “That’s not marijuana.”


“It’s not? What is it?” she asked, perplexed.

“Those are mushrooms.” he told her.

“Mushrooms?” she said. “Are you sure?”

Greg picked off a tiny piece and put it in his mouth. “Yep, mushrooms. Not marijuana. Those are psilocybin mushrooms. They’re psychedelic.”

Greg gave her a quick explanation of “magic mushrooms” and the variety of effects people can experience, especially if they’re novice users.

She thought for a moment. “Could those have caused my son’s break?” she asked.

“Absolutely.” Greg told her.

She thought for another moment as the information began to sink in. “You mean my son’s not crazy?”

“I’m not a psychiatrist, but probably not,” he replied.

Now she was smiling too. “Yes!” she shouted, ecstatically waving her hands in the air. “My son’s not crazy!”

After spending time educating her on psilocybin mushrooms and discussing how to talk to her son about them, we gave her back the mushrooms and sent her on her way. She was so relieved, thanking us over and over again.

Before she left, she insisted on paying us, although we told her there was no charge. We didn’t need to test her sample. And we were happy to give her some information to put her mind at ease.

So she made a donation to Access Hope instead, to help us educate others like her she said. And we will.

Access Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing Hope to those in need of healing through plant medicines, alternative therapies, spiritual enrichment, and community engagement.

Why 0.877?

A lot of customers ask about “Δ9-THC Potential” on lab reports and why we use 0.877 to calculate it. This post from Confidence Analytics explains the chemistry and the math in straightforward terms.

As you may know, the plant-made versions of the major cannabinoids, sometimes called cannabinoid acids, need to be “decarbed”, or decarboxylated, before they can assume their full active effects. This decarboxylation is why it’s called a decomposition reaction — one molecule becomes two. In our case, one of these molecules is always CO2, (carbon dioxide being the source for decarboxylate). The other molecule is the “active” or “neutral” cannabinoid itself.

[THC Potential = THC + (0.877 * THCA)]

The number 0.877 is actually fixed in nature, and it’s based on the ratio of the masses of the cannabinoid molecules. Most major cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG, CBC, but not CBN) have the same molecular formula: C21H30O2, for 21 carbons, 30 hydrogens, and 2 oxygens. The equivalent cannabinoid acids (THCA, CBDA, CBGA, and CBCA, respectively) are “neutral” cannabinoids that are “wearing” a CO2 molecule, changing their molecular formula to C22H30O4 with the addition of one carbon and two oxygens.

Each element in a molecule has a measurable weight, and the most common weight of an element is usually the largest number in an element’s box on the periodic table. Carbon has an atomic mass of approximately 12.011, hydrogen about 1.008, and oxygen almost exactly 16.

We can calculate how much each molecule of THC weighs, like this:

THC’s molecular weight = 21 Carbons (12.011) + 30 Hydrogens (1.008) + 2 Oxygens (16.000)
THC’s molecular weight = 314.47

We can calculate the same for THCA:

THCA’s molecular weight = 22 Carbons (12.011) + 30 Hydrogens (1.008) + 4 Oxygens (16.000)
THCA’s molecular weight = 358.48

The molecule released during “decarb”, CO2, has a molecular weight of about 44.01. If we add THC’s 314.47 and CO2’s 44.01, we get the molecular mass of THCA, 358.48. The universe is making sense! So far so good. If we take this a step further, we realize that THCA is, in fact, not entirely THC. It’s only 314.47 / 358.48 = 0.8772 or 87.72%. There’s our 0.877! The remaining 12.28% is CO2, which bubbles away as a gas during decarboxylation – the bubbling of a full melt hash or a dab on a hot nail illustrates this process.

Now, the goal of the available THC calculation is to find, under absolutely ideal conditions, the maximum amount of “active” THC that can be derived from a sample. If THCA is only 87.72% THC, it only makes sense that we account for that fact in our available THC calculation; Multiply the amount of THCA by 0.877 before adding it to the amount of already “activated” THC. Put another way, a gram of 100% pure THCA contains 0.877 grams of THC and 0.123 grams of CO2.

The same exact “activation multiplier” can be used to calculate available CBD, CBG, or any other cannabinoid with a molecular formula of C21H30O2. Some may have noticed that the American Herbal Pharmacopeia blurb about available cannabinoid content features a multiplier of 0.878 for CBGA; this is because CBGA’s molecular structure contains two more hydrogen atoms, for a formula of C22H32O4. When CBGA decarboxylates into CBG, the two hydrogen atoms are retained, and CBG thus has two more hydrogen atoms in its structure than THC or CBD. The same math from above with the molecular weights of CBGA and CBG (360.75 and 316.74 respectively) yield a conversion factor of 0.8780, slightly different than the 0.877 for THCA to THC.

For the -varin class of cannabinoids, THCV being the most well-known (but also including CBDV, CBGV, CBCV, and their respective acids CBDVA, CBGVA… etc.), we need a different activation number because the molecular masses aren’t the same: cannabivarins are missing two carbons and four hydrogens compared to their regular cannabinoid cousins, giving us a molecular formula of C19H26O2 (mass of 286.42), and C20H26O4 (mass of 330.43) for their acids. Our “activation multiplier” for the -varin class is 0.8668 instead of 0.8772. Close, but not the same!

We hope this answers some of your questions about our favorite herbal product, or perhaps piques your interest to learn more about chemistry.

The seemingly arbitrary number 0.877 is a ratio of molecular masses, specifically that of THC divided by that of THCA. If you multiply the amount of THCA by 0.877 and add the amount of already “active” THC, you find the maximum amount of THC remaining after complete decarboxylation. THCA is about 87.7% THC and 12.3% CO2 by mass.

Thanks Confidence Analytics!

Let’s talk about how The Good Lab might help you. Give us a call at 720-245-8323.

Marijuana Math: Calculating milligrams per milliliter in liquids

Accurately converting percentage to milligrams per milliliter can be confusing, and it’s easy to get it wrong if you don’t factor in the density of the liquid suspension.

You know how oils typically float to the top when mixed in water, while other substances like honey sink to the bottom? That’s because their density and molecular weight are different. One is lighter and less dense, while the other is heavier and more dense.

In order to accurately calculate milligrams per milliliter, you’ll need the following information: Potency percentage, Density of the suspension, and Volume of the liquid.

Dosing Infused Oils

Let’s say you want to know how many mg are in a 50 ml bottle of ethanol tincture at 2% potency:

Potency Percentage = 2%
Density of ethanol* = 0.789 g/ml
Volume of liquid = 50 ml

Step One: Convert Density from g/ml to mg/ml:
0.789 x 1000 = 789 mg

Step Two: Multiply Density in mg/ml by Potency Percentage:
789 x 2% = 15.78 mg/ml

Step Three: Multiply mg/ml by Volume of liquid:
15.78 x 50 = 789 mg in 50 ml

For this example, let’s assume you’re putting .5 ml of infused MCT (liquid coconut oil) into capsules:

Potency Percentage = 3%
Density of MCT* = 0.955 g/ml
Volume of liquid = 0.5 ml

Step One: Convert density from g/ml to mg/ml:
0.955 x 1000 = 955 mg

Step Two: Multiply Density in mg/ml by Potency Percentage:
955 x 3% = 28.65 mg/ml

Step Three: Multiply mg/ml by Volume of liquid:
28.65 x 0.5 = 14.33 mg in 0.50 ml

Let’s say you’re planning to bake some edibles and want to know how many milligrams are in a tablespoon of butter with a potency of 0.5%.

Potency Percentage = .5%
Density of butter* = 0.911 g/ml
Volume of liquid = 15 ml (approximately 1 tablespoon)

Step One: Convert density from g/ml to mg/ml:
0.911 x 1000 = 911 mg

Step Two: Multiply Density in mg/ml by Potency Percentage:
911 x 0.5% = 4.56 mg/ml

Step Three: Multiply mg/ml by Volume of liquid:
4.56 x 15 = 68.4 mg in 15 ml (1 tbsp)

*Each suspension will have a different density. Here are some common ones.
Ethanol: .789 g/mL
Vegetable glycerin = 1.26 g/mL
Coconut oil = .926 g/mL
Olive oil = .915 g/mL
Safflower oil = .921 g/mL
Butter = .911 g/mL
MCT Oil = .955 g/mL
Honey = 1.43 g/mL
(Most oils have a density between 0.90 to 0.95)

Bring your infused oils to The Good Lab for a Cannabinoid Potency Profile. We can help you figure out the milligrams per milliliter. Contact us to schedule a time to drop off your sample.


Testing for THC in hemp


We folks at The Good Lab were concerned about SB17-090, a bill regarding how THC is calculated in hemp, and how it might negatively impact hemp producers if certain adjustments in the calculations weren’t considered.

So we wrote this email to the bill’s sponsors:

After reading SB17-090 regarding how THC is measured in hemp, we’re concerned that there is a calculation error that could negatively and unfairly impact hemp farmers. Simply adding THC-A and delta-9-THC together will not give an accurate or fair result. Considering that Amendment 64 specifies delta-9-THC, factoring in a correction value to account for decarboxylation is important.

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). When THC-A is decarboxylated and converted to delta-9-THC, there is a reduction in the molecular weight that will affect the final percentage calculation. The molecular weight of THC is less than that of THC-A due to the loss of the carboxyl group.

At our lab, we calculate the delta-9 potential in hemp or cannabis using a factor of 0.877. I’ve attached a sample potency report so you can see how we make our calculations.

This article from High Times further explains the error in the current bill’s calculation and why you can’t simply add THC-A and delta-9-THC together to get the accurate number you’re looking for..

We respectfully recommend an amendment to SB17-090 correcting this calculation error.

Apparently, the sponsors passed our concerns onto the Colorado Department of Agriculture. We were excited to get the following response from Mitch Yergert, Director, Division of Plant Industry:

This bill (SB17-090) only affects the testing being conducted by CDA at our lab. We have no desire to affect how the private labs conduct testing for hemp producers. We know most (if not all) of you use HPLC and will continue to do so. We were very specific in the bill to not require a certain piece of equipment or methodology to accommodate this and additionally our approach could change in future years to HPLC or even something else if a better type of machine comes along. We don’t believe the bill language would prevent this in the future.

Currently we use a GC for our analysis as it is more cost effective for the program and the hemp producers. Because of this we don’t have the issue with needing to calculate the THC-A conversion. We would recommend you use the 0.877 molecular weight value as the most conservative approach. We have seen some reports that actual yield from decarboxylation will be less than the exact .877 and that makes scientific sense. We have seen numbers as low as 0.700 in one study. But we don’t have sufficient data to select a specific number less than 0.877 that we would stand behind.

As your testing is not regulatory and we don’t base our regulatory decision on those numbers, by using the .877 number you are providing a conservative estimate to the grower which provides the highest potential THC for the crop. That seems to be the best number for the grower to consider. They can make the decision how to move forward with their crop based upon that. It is conceivable if they are minimally over in your testing using HPLC and the 0.877 conversion and we run a GC analysis, that the value could come in at 0.3 or slightly under, but that is good for everyone.

I believe the variability in sampling conducted by the grower versus CDA is probably a much bigger variable in the process than whether the private labs use HPLC and we use GC. So comparing the two numbers just based on the lab values may not be that productive.

What was really exciting was the validation we got from the CDA about the importance of private labs like ours.

The private labs perform a very valuable function for the hemp producers as the industry tries to get established. We appreciate you efforts to work with them and us on this issue.

We’re excited to work with the CDA, hemp farmers as well as other private cultivators to produce and develop high-quality hemp and cannabis products.

For more information on how The Good Lab might help you, please give us a call at (303) 455-3801.