Testing

Finding the Right Testing Lab

Cara Wietstock
Written by Cara Wietstock

Many involved in the laboratory testing side of cannabis are referring to it as ‘the wild west’ due to the disappointing mixture of a lack of scientific expertise, questionable results, and pricing that is truly too good to be true. This is born of a lack of federal oversight combined with the complete absence of industry standards or even cleaning SOPs for equipment. Pretty much all of the states that have legalized some form of cannabis sales have always mandated testing. But states aren’t setting any regulation regarding testing methods, equipment, or even procedures; these are critical areas of lab analysis. Because of this, results can differ depending on which lab is doing the testing which puts a huge hole in regulatory efficacy.

 

Among all of these questions how does a responsible producer, grower, or dispensary find a good laboratory? By paying attention to these key ideas. Though testing labs are science based they’re still a business so it is important to do some due diligence before settling on a testing facility. First and foremost it is crucial to ensure that science is their basis for testing, check that the lab has real scientific professionals on their team. Some labs have the equipment and have learned how to run it, but check that they are carrying a Ph. D. Also be sure that the laboratory doing analysis has a chemist, these are the elementary components of a successful testing facility.

 

For pricing there really isn’t any baseline so do some comparative analysis of laboratories in the county and in the state. The best price doesn’t always display the best value so combine the price points with the former research of the staff and the labs ability to communicate. Quick, consistent results are key and a lab that communicates with their clients will likely deliver those results.

Never Buy Results

As we’ve likely seen across the board in the marijuana industry, there are charlatans looking to capitalize on this new sector. Some of these snake oil salesmen have seeped into the lab industry and aren’t really sure what they’re doing. Others are up to deliver whatever results are being paid for despite the true testing results. Both of these scenarios should create a prominent red flag in our minds, avoid any lab that guarantees desired results for a price. Not only are these inaccurate results, they can affect the industry as a whole and decimate the already confusing genetic database for the Cannabis genus.

Word of Mouth is King

While most times we don’t want to judge a book by its cover, that is a good way to navigate the cannabis lab testing world. With a lack of industry standards word of mouth is one of the most reputable ways to get feedback on a lab. Since the trade is a small one it is somewhat easy to assess the best and worst options in the small influx of testing labs popping up. Even some of the most well received labs in the market may come back with varying results so the only way to evaluate performance and accuracy is through working together closely.

Round Robin

A good way to understand the capabilities of the labs in our area it is a good idea to get results from several labs when first starting out. Start by sending random samples from a single batch to multiple labs and see what comes back. This will help us gauge who is consistent, where they stand against each other, and which is the best bang for our buck. Eliminating any labs with results at one extreme or another is a good rule of thumb.

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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