Cannabis legalization is a process, and in California, testing the safety of recreational cannabis is still an element of legal regulations that is in progress. Increasingly stringent lab testing requirements on cannabis products in California will be phased in over the next year. The phases, however, will start off slow and will eventually usher in a new era of safe quality cannabis.
“Early on, things will be similar to last year: only a very small fraction of the cannabis [that is]sold legally will have been tested for safety. Just because a product has a label with the THC or CBD levels, doesn’t mean it’s been safety tested.”
In the meantime, experts have warned California cannabis consumers by declaring “buyer beware.” This is because some untested cannabis products will continue to be available for sale at cannabis dispensaries and stores until the complete testing requirements take effect on Dec. 31, 2018.
Steep Hill Labs, Inc. is widely considered to be a global leader in cannabis lab science. “Starting Jan. 1 in California, safety testing will be phasing in,” Dr. Donald Land, chief scientific consultant of Steep Hill Labs, Inc. told CULTURE B2B. “Early on, things will be similar to last year—only a very small fraction of the cannabis [that is] sold legally will have been tested for safety. Just because a product has a label with the THC or CBD levels, doesn’t mean it’s been safety tested. However, products sold that are not safety-tested are now supposed to have a ‘Not Tested for Safety’ label, but even that might not be required or enforced right away.” Land is also a Professor of Chemistry at University of California, Davis.
To truly identify if a cannabis product has been properly tested for safety, Land explained, consumers will have to ask retailers three questions:
- Has this been safety tested?
- By which lab?
- Can I see the results?
For the time being, asking these questions is one of the only ways that consumers can attempt to determine if the cannabis products they are purchasing are safe for consumption. “People who pay for safety testing will be more than happy to answer ‘yes’ to all of the above,” Land said. “If it’s not a reputable lab belonging to the Association of Commercial Cannabis Labs (ACCL), you might want to call, ask them about their testing practices and if they provide testing reports. By Dec. 31, 2018, everything on the shelves should all be safety tested. Until then, it’s still caveat emptor, but at least there will be more information for the patient and consumer to make an informed decision.” Many other companies are members of the ACCL including The Werc Shop, CW Analytical and Pharm Labs.
Lab testing of cannabis products in California falls under the oversight of the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).
After July 1, testing becomes more stringent. At that time, “moderate relative health risk” contaminants will be tested, and by the end of 2018, the state will include “minor relative health risk” testing. In addition, cannabis products will be tested for foreign material.
According to the BCC, laboratories will test for cannabinoids, foreign materials, heavy metals, microbial impurities, mycotoxins, moisture content and water activity, residual pesticides, residual solvents and processing chemicals and finally, terpenoids. Harvest batches will not exceed 50 pounds, and samples collected from batches weighing more than 50 pounds will be deemed invalid.
After testing, the bureau will generate a certificate of analysis that will reveal the results and determine if a business passes or fails. Lab testing gives both consumers and business owners the peace of mind that they desperately need. With the implementation of cannabis lab testing requirements, the cannabis industry elevates itself to the level of other regulated industries.