The inconsistencies that exist within the cannabis testing labs is a sign of a much larger problem, the lack of checks and balances in the marijuana industry. One of the biggest challenges faced by the industry as a whole is the inconsistency of quality control.
When it comes to purchasing a cannabis product, from psychoactive cannabis to CBD oil, the experience can be quite scary for the average consumer. Due to the lack of standardized quality control and testing, the consumer can tell if the producer’s claims are truthful, what’s exactly in the product, and whether the correct dosage is listed.
On its part, the government has put in place strict controls over the quality of the food, medicines, and supplements purchased over-the-counter and from pharmacists. Currently, the cannabis industry lacks that. Instead, the consumers are forced to trust the word of manufacturers, which can lead to some issues.
With the growing demand for hemp and cannabis testing labs comes a renewed attention on their real inconsistencies. The problem isn’t a product of companies that produce the products, but rather due to the cannabis testing labs themselves. Of course, testing is essential, but without proper standards in place, can we rely on the test results?
Top Flaws In Lab Testing Cannabis Products?
As Forbes revealed, not all labs for testing cannabis are created equal. There are no minimum requirements for things like certifications, equipment, and merit for lab testers. The result of this is that the testing labs can vary significantly from each other.
However, the bigger problem here is the lack of standardized testing methods for various cannabis products. As such, the testing procedures for potency and quality of a hemp plant varies significantly from distillates, hemp oil, edibles, and others. The problem is magnified when you take into account that different labs have different testing methods, some claiming that their testing methods are much better than others and can give superior results.
This only causes more inconsistencies with the results, since not all labs have the same procedures and methods for testing. Without a standardized method for testing each type of cannabis product, the results will continue to be inconsistent, which would defeat the purpose of testing in the first place.
Are Lab Test Results 100% Honest?
When a company is marketing a particular product, they want their product to be certified, so that the consumers can trust the quality of their product. To get approved, the product has to be sent to a testing facility for it to be tested for factors such as effectiveness, potency, etc.
Problems start cropping up when the results vary from lab to lab, which only leads to more confusion about the product’s quality. This could also arise from the friendliness of a given lab over others, with the results being freely manipulated to meet the expectations of the manufacturers. Producers aren’t the only ones who test their products. The growers also test their products for quality. And with their reputation on the line, they want to have the best possible results, so that more companies wish to them as a supplier.
With the absence of oversight, growers can also substitute the sample they send to the labs with a higher-quality, more expensive product, which would produce false results for their crops while not all cannabis growers and testing labs do this, its still something that can happen without repercussions, with the current lack of standardized guidelines and someone to enforce them.
Will The Laboratory Business Model Last?
Along with all this, the business model for the cannabis labs themselves is flawed. The costs for buildings, equipment, accreditation, electricity, and the salaries for the lab testers are quite high. Contrariwise, the current value of conducting tests on a single batch is below $200. As such, for these testing facilities to make a profit and succeed in their business, they have to operate in high-volume capacity.
Although cannabis companies are growing at a rather stunning pace, the demand for labs in which these products are tested grows too. The cannabis testing labs are much different from their government-run cousins, which commonly have more access to capital, expertise, better talent pool, along with the power of the government to back them.
From the ferocious competition, high startup costs, rising pressure from the manufacturers and growers, as well as having no one to keep them in check, what’s there to stop a lab from fixing their reports for better results? Again, we aren’t saying that any or most of the labs do this; the problem is that there’s little oversight to verify their results.
Is The Larger Problem In The Supply Chain?
This problem goes beyond the testing facilities since the lack of regulation inevitably affects the entire supply chain of the hemp and cannabis industries. In other words, if there’s no one to keep the cannabis testing labs in check, there’s certainly no one keeping the producers, growers, dispensaries, transporters, etc. in check.
The result of this is a lower quality of the product, and distrust from the consumers. If this continues to be the case in the industry, a lack of trust can ruin the relationship between the companies and the consumers. In the past decade, the marijuana industry has grown in both revenue and popularity, and a loosely-knit system that relies on hand-shake deals and trust is just not enough for long-term growth.
Luckily, the industry leaders are working to improve the cannabis supply chain.
How Can We Improve The Quality Of Our Hemp And Cannabis?
So, how can we solve this problem and other issues present in the cannabis industry? How can we ensure that companies we are buying from are telling us the truth and that there are no unwanted substances in the products?
Increased oversight by the federal government can help to improve the quality of the testing labs, and the overall cannabis and hemp products. [Photo]: A scientist in a white lab coat and white gloves examining a test tube holding a green liquid with a microscope nearby.
But this is only possible with the support of the federal government. The federal government is virtually the only entity that can enforce the existing regulations in the cannabis industry, and keep the involved sectors in check. They also have the power of enforcement and are the only ones with the resources to quality-check every part of the marijuana and hemp supply chain.
Besides that, the federal government has the power of enhancing various parts of the industry. Along with quality control, it can regulate things like shipping, financing, and further research into cannabis. Federal regulatory support is the single greatest challenge to the entire cannabis industry. The support of cannabis is already established, given that a good number of senators and members of Congress are backing the plant publicly. All we need now is for the people to start implementing systems that will help to build the industry.
There are a few signs that this is already happening, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which opened doors to the legalization of industrial hemp. Still, there’s undoubtedly a long way to go.