3 min read

Signs that It’s Time to Find a New Cannabis Testing Lab

ByTrichome Team

December 21, 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cannabis testing labs play a critical role in legal markets. Although testing requirements differ from state to state, labs are generally tasked with analyzing and accurately reporting what is in a submitted cannabis product sample, from cannabinoid and terpene content to the presence of contaminants. 

Cannabis marketing might focus more on “potency” and the levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC) in cannabis products—and labs will test for that content—but there is far more to the plant, and the associated safety compliance testing, than merely quantifying THC content.

Cannabis testing labs have the mandate to ensure that consumers can enter a dispensary with confidence that the cannabis flower or infused product they purchase matches the label’s listed potency and ingredients, and is subject to testing for pesticides, microbes, heavy metals and other consumer safety concerns. 

Not All Cannabis Testing Labs Are Created Equal

It’s important to keep in mind that cannabis testing isn’t yet standardized and lab accreditation varies. Like most independent businesses, cannabis testing labs have their own protocols and methods and not all offer a level of transparency that guarantees the client as much information as possible about a submitted product sample.

Asking questions of a lab and receiving answers to those questions might seem like an obvious process, but it is not uncommon to get pushback or ambiguous answers. Cannabis testing labs should always be available to engage in discussion with clients to ensure results are correct and accurate. If your current lab is unwilling to help you better understand your Certificate of Analysis (COA) or the lab’s testing methodologies, it may not be the right partner moving forward.  

The inability to respond to inquiries promptly indicates potential time management issues that could be the result of a generally disorganized management style. That is not something you want to see in a lab that should be meeting designated turnaround times for testing so client production schedules stay on track. 

Similarly, any respectable lab should keep an open channel of communication and provide notice to clients when it is missing turnaround times. Regularly missing turnaround times could be indicative of poor equipment maintenance and / or workflow management.

Red Flags

Inconsistent testing results are cause for alarm. If a strain that normally tests for 16%-18% total THC has a random 25% result, it may be indicative of unreliable testing methods, poorly trained staff, lack of quality control or internal disorganization that results in incorrect results being released to the client.

Here are a few additional common signs that a cannabis testing lab has issues and should be avoided:

  • Not allowing you to visit or tour the facility
    • Lab staff should not be hesitant to give you a walkthrough of their facility when you drop off your samples
  • Not allowing your company to perform an audit
    • It is typical in all other third-party testing industries that clients are permitted to audit their chosen labs for their own approval needs
  • Not working with you to help you improve any existing in-house testing
  • If the cannabis testing lab is involved in litigation in another state over its testing services
  • If the lab has previously had fines or a lost / suspended license in another state
  • If the lab is operating under a new name
    • This would presumably be done to preclude clients from finding out existing / previous issues

Comparing Cannabis Testing Labs

If you have experienced any of the above with your cannabis testing lab, it is time to find a new lab. The first thing to do is to research the lab’s history. Ask questions to the lab’s operational staff to get an idea of their depth of understanding of testing processes. This will begin a line of communication that should stay open throughout your relationship. 

Remember that lab transparency is directly related to reliability. In the end, there is always the option to use a backup laboratory to verify your primary cannabis testing lab’s results.

Trichome Analytical is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited and a DEA-registered cannabis testing facility, allowing us to legally complete pre-harvest hemp testing that is compliant with USDA hemp regulations, as well as high-THC cannabis produced under a DEA federal research license. We are also approved to accept compliance testing samples for New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program and New York’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program. Do you want to talk to someone to learn more about Trichome Analytical’s operations and testing services? Reach out anytime.