Best Practices

Cannabis Testing And The Expectations Placed On Distributors

Don’t ever get caught with bad cannabis on your shelves

The cannabis industry has always had important checks and balances that ensure quality control of the products sold to customers on the legal market. Sadly, distribution hasn’t always been airtight in their compliance with testing, leading to bad cannabis hitting the shelves and people’s bodies.

Now, the new regulations that govern the legal recreational cannabis market are ensuring that testing of cannabis steps up in real ways, whether distributors like it or not.


Bad Cannabis, Bad Practice

Recently, the topic of contaminated cannabis came to light when a UC Davis study revealed that a large portion of samples from 20 dispensaries in Northern California had traces of bacterial and fungal pathogens.

Simply, this isn’t good at all; the existence of pathogens in an inhaled product can create serious implications for one’s health including lung infections. This is especially concerning for medical marijuana patients who are already in a weakened state with low immune systems due to illness and their associated medications and treatments.  

The cannabis community responded when Robert Martin, the ED of the Association of Commercial Laboratories pointed out that the recent California regulations took best practices and went a bit too far. Along with the belief that products are being over-tested with new regulations, he pointed out the incredible financial investments required for lab equipment for cannabis testing.

Nevertheless, cannabis cultivators and distributors have the burden of meeting compliance requirements for cannabis before it hits the shelves, and its definitely for the betterment of the industry.


Why Testing is So Important

In California, for instance, cannabis that sold in dispensaries must meet the laboratory testing requirements both under the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act (MCRSA) and the new rules for the regulation of legal cannabis for California.

In most cases, cannabis testing looks for the following things:

  • Levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD and their level of potency;
  • Existence of foreign materials;
  • Microbial impurities in the makeup of the strains;
  • Presence of fungus through the existence of mycotoxins;
  • Risk of mold with water content or water activity;
  • Residual pesticides not properly removed following the growing process;
  • Residual solvents and processing chemicals left over from the manufacturing process;
  • Levels of terpenoids that reveal the essential building blocks of the strain’s biological makeup

Edibles are also required to be tested through samples to ensure that cannabinoids like THC are spread evenly across doses.


Requirements of Distributors Before Products Hit the Shelves

Before any cannabis distributor puts anything from any batch of cannabis cultivated on the shelves, rigorous and thorough testing is required.

The distribution company must ensure the products are tested for the elements listed above. Luckily for producers, they get two chances to ensure their product is free of contaminants. Once a failed batch is fixed of its problems, it can be sold. If the products fail the second test, the entire batch of the product must be destroyed and is fully prohibited to be introduced into the supply chain.

This duty is wholly placed on the shoulders of distributors, and those who are responsible for bringing the cannabis products from seed to sale. Distributors are required to up the ante to ensure that cannabis is free of contaminants, even if it requires purchasing expensive equipment to keep up with compliance. Plus, it’s the right thing to do. No one wants to be


The Use of Harmful Products in Cannabis Cultivation

Cannabis cultivators also have a duty to protect the integrity of their plants and the products that get put into the cannabis supply chain.

Advocates of clean cannabis have been vocal about the need for cultivators to use clean products in the growing process, including staying away from Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs), enough so that cultivators are being more upfront about what they’re growing with.

Many times, cultivators chose to use chemical-free fertilizers to avoid the risk of chemical contamination and scrutiny, and appeal to users who are conscious consumers of everything they put into their bodies.


Ensure You’re Stocking Tested Cannabis

Don’t ever get caught with bad cannabis on your shelves – it’s a sure-fire way to get your dispensary all over the news and face losing your license. It’s up to you as a dispensary owner to ask the questions about your cannabis and the processes your distributor undertakes to test everything that makes it to your store. Ask to see testing reports or arrange to have a regular delivery of testing reports along with your batches. Most distributors will have no problem providing this information.

Compliance in testing can seem cumbersome as indicated by the early critics of cannabis testing, but it’s up to the distributors – and the few who have licenses for distribution – to hold up the integrity of the regulations that ensure only quality cannabis makes its way onto the legal cannabis retail shelves.


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  1. Pingback: Cannabis Testing and Treatments are Put to the Test - Canna.Link

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