Freedom Leaf Magazine - Issue 16

Page 22


The Alpha and Omega of Testing Cannabis

French canna-scientist Sébastien Béguerie.

Thin-Layer Chromatography is the affordable way to analyze pot. By Lex Pelger and Jahan Marcu Their reaction is purely emotional. They Although he is not of Jamaican heritage, French canna-scientist Sébastien Béguerie has a distinct Rasta accent. The founder of the European testing firm Alpha-CAT says his early and abiding interest in reggae led him to cannabis. When Peter Tosh sang that it’s a cure for asthma and glaucoma on 1978’s “Bush Doctor,” it made Béguerie wonder, “How did he know that? The info wasn’t out there yet.” Béguerie got into cannabis science to see if the medical efficacy Tosh sang about on “Bush Doctor” and “Legalize It” (“doctors smoke it”) was real. It was a natural path for him, considering that he hails from rough-and-tumble Marseille, the Mediterranean port city that’s long served as a key transshipment hub for heroin and hash smuggling. Marseille’s main shopping street, Canebière, is derived from the Latin word for cannabis. Béguerie says gunshots are still frequently heard there in the fight for control over the hashish smuggling routes from Morocco and Algeria. Today, in Marseille’s suburbs, open-air markets offer many types of hash to students and working people. There’s support for harm reduction around heroin in France, he reports, but little information about cannabis. “Nobody tells you about decarboxylation, or about edibles being more potent,” Béguerie complains. “When you talk to physicians, there are so many fixed ideas.


don’t even recognize the endocannabinoid system.” Béguerie learned the science as he dove into his studies of cannabis. He received a sponsorship for a master’s degree in plant science at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, from Bedrocan, the respected Dutch supplier of medical-grade cannabis in Holland, Canada and the Czech Republic. He didn’t end up working for them, but he eventually got to return the favor by sending them his easy-to-use cannabinoid analysis kit. The Alpha-CAT test kit (CAT stands for Cannabis Analysis Test) determines the levels of a sample’s top six cannabinoids in 30 minutes, for less than 10 Euros. With a minimum of training, testers can provide their patients and customers with a quick and consistent read on THC, CBG, CBC, CBN, THCV and CBD levels. Alpha-CAT customers include dispensaries, master breeders and judging contests like High Times Cannabis Cups. The analysis is limited to little more than examining the trichomes under a microscope, and perhaps a quick smoke test. The kit is helpful for caregivers because it can test not only flowers, hash and concentrates, but also the extracts used in edibles, such as oil, alcohol distillations and butter. Growers can use AlphaCAT in order to harvest at peak potency; breeders can hunt through their many hybrid crosses to hunt for the desired

july 2016

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