One day cannabis may be subject to the same quality assurance standards as other things we ingest and inhale, like prescription drugs and food. But not yet. Today, many of the products sold legally (20 states currently allow marijuana sales) aren't well tested, with strains often contaminated in handling, ridden with mold and E.coli, or covered in pesticides.
While we wait for better testing laws, citizens have to look after themselves. That's where a device like MyDx comes in. A small testing kit that links to your smartphone, its creators claim that the device can immediately tell you if your weed contains certain cannabinoids, terpenoids, and nasty chemicals.
"There's no quick, easy, affordable way to test safety and potency of cannabis samples. People don't know what they're putting in their bodies," says Daniel Yazbeck, co-founder of the San Diego company. "If a doctor prescribes cannabis to you, and you go the dispensary and see a bunch of jars, it doesn't mean anything. It's just names."
Cannabis testing labs have been springing up to serve the legal market (as we wrote here). But Yazbeck reckons they won't serve all outlets or customers, leaving plenty of space for home-grown solutions (of course, there's the illicit cannabis space to serve as well). To use the little black device, you simply sync your phone (Android or iOS), place a small sample in a sliding tray, and wait for the read-out. Aside from the content, the app will also tell you if the drug is likely to make you "happy," "distracted," "social," and so on (presumably based on the strain of marijuana).
MyDx has been campaigning on Indiegogo, easily passing its $19,000 goal. The money will go towards tooling and delivering the devices, hopefully by a December deadline. See the pitch here:
Yazbeck describes the sensors inside MyDx, which are licensed from a company called Next Dimension Technologies, as an "electronic nose." They detect for certain marker molecules in vapor form.
After cannabis, MyDx plans to develop three other sensors packages for the same platform. "Organa" will test for pesticides sprayed onto fruits and vegetables. "Aqua" will be for water samples. And "Aero" will sniff out air quality. "We realized that the organic crowd is just as hungry for this as the cannabis crowd," Yazbeck says.
The cannabis system will retail for $399, while a multi-sensor kit will come in at $499. None of the sensors will provide the accuracy or multi-feature analysis of a professional lab. But Yazbeck hopes it will offer a convenient stop-gap while we wait for official controls.