Since the legalization of recreational cannabis in late 2018, Health Canada has ordered 15 product recalls due to labelling errors for actual levels of THC and CBD. In one case, pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes had five times the THC content advertised.

Health Canada is doing its job protecting the health of Canadians. Its peers in other countries are doing the same. While recalls are not exclusive to the cannabis trade, other mainstream industries do not face similar levels of daily opposition, doubts, obstacles, and challenges. There are interest groups out there who would shut down the industry tomorrow if they had the opportunity to do so. They should not be given the ammunition to do so.

Cannabis companies must do everything they reasonably can be expected to do to ensure that their products are consistent, safe, effective, and predictable. To start, producers of cannabis products must recognize the challenge of dealing with a natural product. Too many cannabis players argue that they have the best product, they know their potencies for certain and laboratory testing by sampling is all they need to ensure quality. This approach is a recipe for disaster.

Cannabis as a raw material is the opposite of a homogenous synthetic active compound. No two cannabis flowers are the same, even if they come from the same plant. When a producer receives a supply of raw material, be it flowers, biomass or crude extract, they cannot take for granted the results presented in the supplier’s certificate of analysis (COA), even if it comes from a certified laboratory. The results from the COA are, in the best-case scenario, accurate for the sample analysed. Attempts to create homogenous samples before analysis, such as by grinding, do not solve the problem. Unsurprisingly, certified labs will state on the COA that “Results pertain to submitted samples only”.

Producers must adopt in-house testing protocols across their process from start to finish. A fully equipped analytical laboratory can cost anywhere between US $1.5 million to US$ 7.0 million.  There is no need to invest such amounts if you do not plan to run an analytical laboratory business. Effective in-house testing can be implemented and managed for much less.

One recall can destroy consumer confidence in your brand, years of hard work and millions of dollars invested. The smart cannabis and hemp analyzer by GemmaCert, for example, is an effective and affordable tool for in-house potency testing. Its cost pales in comparison to that of an expensive product recall. The legal cannabis industry may be young, but it is fiercely competitive. Consumers will be loyal to the brands they trust. As a producer, if your brand is important to you, be smart and invest in in-house testing to reduce the chances for a recall. No insurance policy gives you 100% coverage but for a small premium you can go a long way with in-house testing.