Cannabis Testing: What Can Europe Learn From The US?

By Bill Griffin, New frontier Data Special Contributor

As the European cannabis industry grows, so too does the need for laboratories to verify that what exists on the market is safe and legal, with labelling accurately reflecting whatever is indicated.

The U.S. has largely led the way about medical and adult-use cannabis. As a result, they were among the first to take testing seriously. However, cannabis testing was (and remains) a new field. Early market leaders such as Steep Hill Labs in California had to define their methodologies. When they began in 2008, there were only four certified reference materials available for calibrating their equipment. Thus, they had to identify their own in order to provide richer information to their clientele. The subsequent processes afforded Steep Hill and other labs scrutinizing and developing their own techniques with some first-mover advantages as competitors were left to figure out their own techniques and services. Now there are 18 certified reference materials, so laboratories know better how to home in on their targets.

In a fast-moving sector of a rapidly growing industry, the testing methodologies of laboratory companies are still often viewed as their individual IP, never to be shared. While some may argue that it is a sensible business approach for the short term, it does little to help the testing industry at large find common ground toward the development of collective standards and aims toward industry-led regulation.

What may have been a necessity early on may have worked well, but as the industry grows there comes a point where standards for methodologies need to be shared, lest samples from different labs will offer different results, leading to “lab shopping” in cutting corners for getting to market.

There exists a relationship between a laboratory’s popularity and its revenues. To manufacturers of cannabis products, it makes sense to get one’s products tested at a laboratory that finds minimal issues.  If such a lab charges less to do so, all the better in the immediate term.

“The real …

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