Making your own infused oils and tinctures for use in edibles can be a tricky business. The potency of the herb you’re using can vary, and different oils will extract cannabinoids at different rates. Not knowing the strength of your recipe makes proper dosing of the final product a difficult endeavor.
Taking away that mystery was the goal of the founders of Engineered Medical Technologies, a small tech company in Northern California.
Bringing together expertise in medicine and technology, they set out to help a friend with a neurological disorder. She had been having challenges creating edible medical marijuana therapies with a dose strong enough to provide relief, without being too strong and causing undesired side effects. She needed a way to know just how strong each batch of infusion was.
Enter tCheck, the cannabinoid potency test lab that fits in the palm of your hand.
The tCheck Home Infusion Potency Tester uses a UV spectrometer to determine an aggregate total of all cannabinoids in a butter, oil or alcohol infusion. Just a couple drops in the test tray is all it takes. The tray is slid into the machine, which analyzes the sample, and returns results in less than one minute. A built-in calculator makes it easy to determine milligrams per milliliter, teaspoon or tablespoon.
The tCheck can measure cannabinoids up to a concentration of 15 percent for olive oil, 10 percent for butter and coconut oil and eight percent for alcohol. If your infusion is stronger than the upper limit, the instructions advise to dilute a sample by half and double the result received from a new test.
It’s important to note that the reading you get is the total of all cannabinoids, not just THC.
Using average cannabinoid ratios by strain, an online calculator from tCheck can help you determine approximate THC levels in your sample. Although only a few strains are currently included in the calculator, a custom entry function allows you to enter lab results or averages for the strain you used for your infusion. The calculator then provides the amount of infusion to use in your recipe to achieve the desired dose per serving.
This is where the Trump administration enters the story.
The strain specific calculator just mentioned used to be freely available on the website. I had checked it out when originally researching this story. But after I received my tCheck and tried it out for the first time, I attempted to interpret my results. I was confused, as the website no longer had any reference to THC or cannabinoids. Plus, the calculator no longer included any strain or cannabinoid ratio information.
Peichen Chang, co-founder of Engineered Medical Technologies, and Kelly Maynard, director of sales, explained that in mid-March, the company’s credit card processor notified them that their account would be closed within 72 hours, because of references to marijuana.
As reported by online magazine Inc., tCheck and other cannabis industry ancillary businesses were deemed too risky and dropped by multiple payment processors after statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on February 28. Sessions hinted at a toughening stance on marijuana by the new administration at a gathering of the National Association of Attorneys General.
At that meeting, Sessions said “States can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
Apparently, states’ rights are only an issue for the Trump administration when it’s convenient to their agenda.
After scrubbing their website and social media accounts of all references to cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids, tCheck secured the services of a new credit card processor. tCheck now provides customers access to the full, strain-specific cannabinoid calculator via a private, password protected page on its website.
With the politics of pot set aside, renewed access to the online calculator allowed me to approximate the amount of THC per serving for any recipe.
The tCheck is easy to use, but how accurate is it?
To find out, I had a sample of the butter I tested with the tCheck analyzed by cannabis testing laboratory PharmLabs in San Diego. Aggregate results from PharmLabs for THC, CBD, CBN and CBG totaled 6.18 mg/ml. The tCheck result for total cannabinoids was 6.3 mg/ml. This variance of less than two percent is well within the accuracy of +/- 10 percent stated on the tCheck website.
Although marketed primarily to consumers, PharmLabs CEO Greg Magdoff also noted the commercial applications for tCheck.
Potency testing during product research and development, or for quality assurance during production, doesn’t require verified results from a certified laboratory. Using the tCheck for these operations could realize a significant savings in time and money.
Engineered Medical Technologies is currently working on new product offerings for cannabis testing. Testing concentrates with the tCheck will soon be possible, with an accessory kit slated to be available later this year. Tests for flower potency and contamination by mold and pesticides are also on the horizon.