The need for the cannabis industry to fully adopt in-house is recognized; it is necessary to allow for real-time decisions to be made in the field. Despite this, cannabis businesses will still need to use third-party labs to meet mandatory regulatory compliance so it’s not a cast of which is better – in-house vs. lab testing. Unfortunately, although there are thousands of growers, there is a shortage of labs. Many of the labs available are small and poorly equipped and testing is often done by technicians with very little experience. Some labs have even been known to artificially inflate potency results in order to give higher THC values in order to raise the crop’s market value as well as to deceive consumers into purchasing the product.
Several companies have put aside any concern for customer safety and preferred to focus on short-term profits. These companies seek out labs that allow them to pass all compliance tests regardless of their actual results. This is known as lab shopping, which refers to seeking out a lab that is easy to work with.
The lack of consistent standards for testing means that labs can often end up with different results.
Inaccurate results can put the value of your crop at risk. You can manage this issue by following two parallel tracks. The first track involves ensuring you have a way of conducting your own testing in-house so that you can cross-check the results with those you receive from the lab. The second track you should follow is to make sure you do your due diligence and select a credible lab which will work best for your business. This includes ensuring the lab is certified to perform cannabis testing. The lab should also have ISO 17025 certification, which testifies to the lab’s professionalism.
Other steps you can take to make sure you’re selecting a qualified lab are to inquire into the experience and qualifications of the staff. The staff should be trained scientists who hold a minimal qualification of a bachelor’s degree. When you talk to them, take the opportunity to evaluate their expertise and knowledge of cannabis regulations.
Ask to see example Certificates of Analysis, and make sure to read the fine print, particularly regarding their margins of error. If these are unavailable, ask them to disclose this information. Additionally it’s best to always see what industry peers have to say about the lab.
Finally, a simple Google search is often enough to find any problems the lab may have had in the past. Beware of labs which have been previously penalized by the authorities for tampering with their results.
At the end of the day, in order to build your business into a strong and profitable one, you must first gain your customer’s trust by ensuring their safety. Choosing the wrong lab can jeopardize your customer’s health and the trust they place in your business.