“Legal cannabis does not exist without a robust laboratory environment. It’s really encouraging to see new markets like California embracing the labs, and of course, the OG markets – Colorado and Washington – are really figuring out how this relationship between cultivator, processor, retail outlet, and lab ultimately ends up working out.” Ricardo Baca, Former Editor-in-Chief of The Cannabist
The relationship between cannabis businesses and their labs can have a huge impact on the success of a company. Reliable testing ensures more than quality and safety, it’s a critical component in maintaining the company’s bottom line. The global cannabis testing market will be worth more than $1.4 billion by 2021, according to research and analytics firm MarketsandMarkets. However, those hard-earned dollars are easily lost to inaccurate measurements and weak computations.
Companies rely on labs to accurately analyze the potency of their product, sometimes tens of thousands of pounds at a time. If the accuracy is off, even a little, the resulting concentrate or edible could be drastically stronger (or weaker) than originally intended, ultimately costing business owners millions of dollars in mislabeled product.
Chief Science Officer at EVIO Labs and founder of Kenevir Research Dr. Anthony Smith gave this example: “Extractors want to supply dozens and dozens of pounds that they’re going to extract. Well, those dozens of pounds may range in strength from trim to fully trimmed bud. Parts of it are 5 or 10 percent potency, parts of it are 15 or 20 percent. If you just take a single point out of that hundred pounds of cannabis and assume your yield of concentrate math out of it, you could start with the wrong number and end up completely wrong. Manufacturers, they’re not crossing their fingers; they need to make it right and know that it’s right. Not just from a quality assurance and safety perspective, but from a commercial end. These companies can lose a lot of money.”
The value of lab testing also comes in the form of consumer trust. Accurate labeling builds customer loyalty and consumers appreciate knowing what they’re buying, particularly when they’re ingesting the final product. “You can really go off the deep end and get disturbingly ill by eating too much cannabinoid. So having metrics all along the supply chain about the content and the strength of the raw material, the concentrates, the refined products, it’s really important,” Dr. Smith added.
The main limitation affecting labs at this stage of development is finding skilled labor. Chemists and researchers may have the necessary schooling, but lack the real-world training to enter their careers at full speed. “There’s a whole new section of job opportunities that have opened up in biotech and chemistry. All these chemistry jobs are on the industrial side rather than the research side of R&D, so folks wanting to go into this should do internships to add basic business skills and quality assurance.” Whether one is considering joining the field as a career choice or employing a lab for product testing, ensure the facility is fully state accredited and up-to-date on their certifications. Otherwise, you could be making a costly mistake.