Are All Testing Labs Created Equal?

Written by Nicholas Demski
  • A look at the benefits and pitfalls of cannabis testing, and the beneficence and competitiveness of the cannabis supply chain.

Whether we are eating GMO potato chips or organic apples from a local orchard, it is understood that humans have a right to know what it is they are consuming, even if it is an unhealthy snack like GMO potato chips.

The option to consume something that is unhealthy is a human prerogative. However, that does not give companies the right to produce an unhealthy product without the consumer knowing about it.

This is where testing companies come in to play. Cannabis testing is crucial to ensuring that what is being delivered to the customer is the same product that is being sold by the company. That is to say: the product being marketed is the product on the market.

Without proper testing in place, a company could make claims about their product without delivering on the promises. So, it’s easy to see why there needs to be testing in cannabis industry.

But does it always work?

A Strange Competition in the Cannabis Testing

Despite their resources and values being in the right place–providing valuable testing services to enhance the transparency and quality of products in the cannabis market–magnanimous actors are also influenced by financial stress.

For cannabis testing labs, there isn’t always enough work to go around; testing just a few samples a day at $100 a piece isn’t quite enough of a profit margin to make up for the substantial investment in testing equipment (often near $1.5 million for a suite of necessary instrumentation and supplies) and the high salaries of professional scientists (1).

As a result, the competition between testing labs is fierce and their testing operations are generally considered proprietary. It’s no surprise then that the testing procedures, and ultimately results, vary from lab to lab (2).

Ultimately, a competitive testing industry, in its quest for corporate success, has created a system whereby there is no one standardized method of testing, yet.

Testing Labs Need a Rating System

Without one sound methodology for testing, perhaps we should demand a lab rating system?

Surely, a system of checks-and-balances is needed to maintain high-standard expectations in the cannabis industry. If consumers can’t know exactly what’s in their product due to the vagueness of the industry, they should at least be able to know if the product was tested by a reputable testing lab.  This is where audits of laboratories by unbiased third parties can better ensure patient safety.


  1. “Cannabis Lab Testing is the Industry’s Dirty Little Secret.” Accessed May 24, 2018.
  2. “Inconsistency in Cannabis Lab Testing.” Accessed May 24, 2018.

About the author

Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski's latest venture is He's a poet, author, cannabis writer, and budding entrepreneur. You can follow his travels with his daughter on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram @TheSingleDadNoma

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