California: Will New Standards For Lab Testing Cannabis Boost Illicit Market?

Five years after California legalized marijuana in 2018, both state and industry players are still wrestling with test standardization. In response, California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered the state to develop clear and specific guidelines to test cannabis products, reported

The initiative comes under the new state law – Senate Bill 544, signed in October, which demanded that the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) create strict criteria and guidelines for testing a plethora of microbiological contaminants, pesticides, residual solvents, and cannabis compounds.

The standards will be established by 2023.

What labs test for and how they test cannabis samples is often at the discretion of the lab itself, which leads to a process that has come to be called ‘lab shopping.’ Cannabis processors and growers use labs that will produce more favorable results, even if they’re less accurate.

Ben Rosman, co-founder of the Michigan-based PSI Labs, explained that when clients don’t like the numbers they see, “they’re like, ‘I can find another lab who’s going to give me the numbers I like (…)”.

Meanwhile, Mehran Moghaddam, CEO and founder of Kurvana, a cannabis vape pen company, told that this is a complex issue, in that different testing labs use different instruments and methodologies.

Another Issue: Most agreed that regulating the legal cannabis market may end up bolstering the illicit cannabis market. 

“The more expensive you make the product for the end-user, so the more you tax it and regulate it, the more expensive it is for the user,” said David Wolf, co-founder of the cannabis testing lab maker Greenbox Builders. “And then that’s why a black market can crop up. The black market in California is bigger than the legal cannabis market,” Wolf added.

Photo By Julian Myles On Unsplash

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