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5-mg Edibles: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Jeffrey Skell with Skell Labs


Variability in potency is inevitable. Hitting a 5-mg target across a wide range of products can be a challenge. This presentation identifies contributing factors starting with the properties of cannabinoids, continuing on to the recipes prepared in the kitchen, and finally to results delivered by the testing labs.


Literature and experiential observations will be used to inform a discussion of cannabinoid intrinsic properties. These will be contrasted to those of conventional drugs to illustrate the dimensions of the overall challenges facing the cooks in the kitchen and the analysts in the testing lab. Three categories of products will be identified and the general details for sample prep for each will be documented. Blinded potency results from the test lab data archives will be extracted.


Three sets of tables will be presented illustrating the composition of easy, moderate, and difficult products. First, typical recipes for each category of product will illustrate the types of ingredients used and their proportions. This will be followed by tables of test results for each category. Discussion First, a brief analysis of the differences between this marketplace and that for traditional drug product formulations and testing will be highlighted to put the challenge into perspective.


There are relatively few reasons for missing the target for the “good” actors in this movie. Conversely, there are several good possible reasons that both cooks and chemists might struggle to get the “right” answer when it comes to hitting the 5-mg target for the “ugly” ones. Remember, there is a person on the other end of the line, and if the objective is to understand the problem so it goes away rather than just getting the “right” result regardless of how many times it comes back to haunt you, then openness and honesty will serve you well in the long run.

There have been many lessons learned the hard way in the rigidly structured and highly regulated ethical drug marketplace. Some of these could benefit the wild west of cannabis compliance and regulations in today’s world.

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