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California to Standardize Cannabis Testing to Stop ‘Laboratory Shopping’


marijuana plant
A marijuana plant. Times of San Diego photo

The California Department of Cannabis Control announced plans to standardize lab testing methods amid concerns about inflated potency and “laboratory shopping” by businesses.

The department said some marijuana businesses are choosing labs that report THC levels that are higher than what is actually contained in the cannabis flower or product.

“One of the challenges we face in regulating an industry that is not federally recognized, is the lack of standardized, and validated methods for testing,” said Nicole Elliott, director of the department, on Friday. “Individual, licensed laboratories use different methods which may produce inconsistent results and inaccurate data on cannabis cannabinoid content.”

The department’s rulemaking was prompted by passage of Senate Bill 544, which requires California to establish standardized test methods by Jan. 1.

All cannabis goods are required to be tested by a licensed laboratory prior to sale to ensure they are free of harmful contaminants like molds, pesticides, and residual solvents and are labeled with the accurate amount of cannabinoid content.

“The ultimate goal is protecting public health and safety by providing consumers accurate and consistent information on the cannabis they purchase,” Elliott said. 

A public hearing on the proposed testing rules is planned for Aug. 1 and comments can be sent to the department by email through the close of business on Aug. 2.


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