Houdini Lab

Safety First: Concerns About Cannabis Testing

In the recent past, the cannabis industry has been beset by contamination and testing controversies in virtually every jurisdiction that has legalized the drug. These scandals have been widespread. One of the most prominent examples is the state of California, where, according to the most recent data available from the end of 2018, almost twenty percent of tested batches did not meet statutory criteria. The majority of the failures were due to erroneous labeling, but almost one quarter of the cannabis products that were tested failed because of health concerns. This was owing to unacceptable amounts of pesticide and solvent contamination.

In Michigan, a state that has legalized medical marijuana, the situation is not significantly different. In order to get around the problem of medical marijuana being in short supply, lawmakers are allowing the sale of goods that have not been tested, but even some of the products that have been tested are failing. Already in 2019, there have been many recalls of products due to the presence of chemical residues. The states of California and Michigan are not alone; allegations of contaminated cannabis have been received from virtually all legal jurisdictions across the continent of North America.


Cannabis testing labs are playing an increasingly important role in safeguarding consumers from impurities that could pose a possible health risk. Due to the fact that the sector is still in its infancy, there are still certain safety issues that need to be ironed out. There are not any industry-wide testing processes in place, despite the fact that there are stringent procedures that need testing prior to sale. It is causing some very varied findings to emerge from the tests.



There is a hodgepodge of different testing criteria across North America, each of which is determined by the local legislation. In contrast to the comparatively uncomplicated nature of the Canadian market, which is governed at the federal level, the individual state rules in the United States, where the number of states with legal access continues to grow, are, to put it mildly, difficult.


In general, cannabis and any products based on cannabis that are intended for human consumption must be tested for the following pollutants before they can be sold, and this requirement applies regardless of the location.





Both THC and CBD

The standards have been laid out into somewhat more depth in Oregon, which is a state with rather straightforward legislation on testing. First and foremost, consumer-ready flower and concentrates must be tested for all of the aforementioned characteristics, in addition to testing for moisture content. The second condition is that any cannabis product (flower or concentrate) that is destined for further processing must likewise be able to pass an exhaustive battery of tests. In addition, there are clear guidelines for how to deal with products that have been deemed unsuccessful. Another country that follows this model is Canada, which has clearly defined limits of quantity expressed in parts per million for more than a hundred different pesticides.


Because there are no national or international cannabis guidelines (at least for the United States), it is up to the various state-level governing organizations to decide which pesticides may be used and which may not. The contamination of products with pesticides is one of the primary sources of contention for producers. In order to be in compliance with the legislation, many former black market producers who, up until very recently, were allowed to operate with no limits on pesticides must now adapt to new growing techniques and new goods.


The government of Canada has given its blessing to the use of twenty-two different types of marijuana; the state of Washington maintains an extensive list of pesticides that are both federally regulated and state-approved for the cultivation of marijuana; and the state of California keeps a list of pesticides that are not registered for food use in the state or that are included on the groundwater restriction list. In addition, the state of California has a list of pesticides that are exempt from regulations concerning pesticide residue. When it comes to regulating the levels of toxins in cannabis, no two countries take the same approach. These are just three of many examples, out of dozens more, that highlight the variety of laws that can be placed on the same commodity.


THE Obstacles That Cannabidiol Testing Facilities Must Overcome

The scientific community that develops testing standards for cannabis is having trouble keeping up with consumer demand. The cannabis testing industry is plagued by negative press coverage. A recent claim made by a Canadian business called Scientus Pharma stated that only two of the fourteen samples of THC oil that it examined were fully activated at 100 percent. They found that CBD oils were even less effective, with one of the oils possessing no active CBD at all. Activation is the key to many medicinal benefits, however there is no standardized testing technique for activation testing. Activation testing is the key to many medicinal benefits. There is no no procedure that is recognized by the federal government for testing activation. Even if Scientus’s claims are nothing more than a clever marketing tactic, the company’s preliminary findings help to bring to light problems that exist with even the most fundamental potency testing in the industry.


Since the beginning of the cannabis legalization movement in Oregon, the cannabis testing sector has been subjected to a never-ending torrent of unfavorable attention. In the beginning, there were significant delays caused by the backlog of testing, which resulted in product shortages. In addition, there have been a significant number of cannabis testing facilities that have had their licenses cancelled by the state. Kelly O’Conner of Cannabis Industry Insider has published a report that shines light on fraudulent potency reports that favor the producer. Her experience has led her to believe that testing facilities will even inquire about the desired THC content of the grower. It causes her to have doubts about the THC levels of 28 to 30 percent that are found on the shelves of dispensaries, given that very few strains are known to achieve such a level.


It is likely that cannabis testing facilities will continue to experience scandals, discrepancies, and inaccuracies even when testing the same product as long as there are no standard testing procedures that apply not only within a state but also across North America. These procedures would apply not only within a state but also across the continent. This ambiguity surely has an effect on the sector in a much broader sense that affects consumers, as consumers and lawmakers alike may begin to question the authenticity of the product. Both the nascent business and the regulators who are attempting to exercise control over it are still struggling to develop consumer protection strategies that are both effective and efficient. Laboratories need to play catch up to the need of consumers, legislators need to implement consistent testing regulations, and all parties need to work towards keeping consumers safe.