Recently I was given the opportunity to do an in-depth article regarding a the cannabis testing lab sector of the industry, which was probably the sector that I knew the least about. Through lots of interviewing and research, as well as looking at current policy and industry trends, I was able to discern that there is a dire need for cannabis testing lab standardization, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
This did not come as a surprise to me, as cannabis is still very much an emerging industry and it seems that ALL sectors of the industry need work on universal regulations and standards. However, this is particularly crucial in the testing lab sector as this piece of the industry is what makes the legalized and regulated seed-to-sale process happen. Testing labs are what ties the producer/processor to the retailer and eventually to the consumer. The regulations and standards that testing labs have are often what trickles down to the producer/processor and thus helps those sectors/companies create standard operating procedures and practices for their products.
I learned so much from writing this article, and had the privilege of getting to interview amazing scientific executives from companies like Steep Hill Labs and Cascadia Labs as well as organizations like A2LA and ASTM International. However, my favorite quote in the article is from Aubrey Belisle. Co-founder and Co-owner of Pure Cannabis Consulting, as she spoke about standards really being a piece that will help this entire movement and industry push forward.
Pure Cannabis Consulting is a firm of operational consultants who have specialized in assisting marijuana cultivation facilities and retail storefronts since 2009. Beisle has seen several new companies through both medical and recreational licensing.
She said, “When I read a "new" state's rules and regulations, I can see many of the same themes transcending. Since 2014, the broader goals of every state that has implemented a marijuana program is to oversee the prevention of diversion (of both money and marijuana), prevent illegal sales to minors, collect tax revenue, and ensure public safety. Fortunately, issues like community impact are gaining more traction as legalization matures, invoking steps toward equity for those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. Having said that, every year, the licensing process and general compliance requirements get a little more sophisticated for each state. State governments who take on the implementation of a marijuana program are pioneers in their own right, and must revise their rules and regulations constantly. An essential tool for a newer state is the data generated from older markets. Newer states do appear to look to these "established" states for guidance, but will ultimately create a program that meets their regional needs.”
The overall consensus that I got from the other executives and professionals I interviewed was along these same lines. There is hope and some evidence that as more states legalize cannabis that the testing standards and regulations from state to state will be more similar than different. You can read the full article here.