LII:Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States/Final thoughts and resources

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This last section of the guide provides closing thoughts to tie together what was previously discussed. It also provides a directory of cannabis testing, standards, etc. resources for readers wanting to learn more.

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6. Final thoughts

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This guide has attempted to provide insight into various aspects of the current status of laboratory testing of cannabis in the U.S. By extension, it has required a closer look at many non-testing or tangentially related aspects of cannabis, including history, regulations, standards, methods, equipment, and software. The guide has also attempted to look at the potential future of testing, a more difficult feat that has required inspection of—and speculation on—a mix of statistics and politics, as well as government and social policy and how they may all affect the future of cannabis testing. We learned that many point fingers at the U.S. federal government for being responsible for several cannabis-related issues, including lack of clear government support for cannabis research, lack of standardization of testing and analysis methods for said research, and wavering policy that remains inconsistent at best. At root is the fact that the federal government maintains cannabis (and its constituents) as a Schedule I drug, by extension declaring that it has no respectable medical use. This and related decisions have slowed down the academic study of cannabis (in the U.S.), including its analysis, quality testing, and research and use as a medical treatment. The development, implementation, and reassessment of cultivation and testing standards and methods have largely been piecemeal; additionally, those efforts have been enacted in an environment where, despite the legal status in a state, fear that the federal government will inevitably intervene slows progress even further.

Despite these barriers, the speed at which U.S. states have adopted some form of legalization of cannabis has pushed scientists and researchers to collaborate and improve standards and methods. Necessity continues to be the mother of invention, driving those in the industry to adapt or perish in a difficult, inconsistent market. State officials are teaming up at industry conferences and sharing ideas. Non-profit organizations are joining forces with major standards agencies to expand and improve good laboratory practices. Researchers—whether on their own or with the help of others internationally—are learning more about the various cannabinoids and their interaction with terpenes, driving new insight into potential therapeutic remedies. Overall public perception about marijuana consumption and use is gradually shifting towards a positive light, even when so little is still understood about the long-term ramifications of its use. Commercial interests are taking notice, and so are international treaty makers. All of this adds up to forward momentum in the cannabis industry, with warts and all.

Many factors will affect the future of cannabis regulation, testing, and research; in the process, we're certain to see both ups and downs as political and social climates continue to change. However, as marijuana consumption and hemp-based manufacturing methods continue to see expanded support, consumers and manufacturers, as well as all those involved in between, will always clamor for a safer product that is "as advertised." Laboratory analysis will play an important role in that effort, whether it's in the medical research lab, the quality control lab, or the manufacturer's lab. It will be imperative for all interested parties to further work together to ensure methods are sound and standardized in a realistic and beneficial way to ensure that in the end consumers will get the best possible product available.

7. Resources

Key reading


Reference material

  • ElSohly, M.A.; Radwan, M.M.; Gul, W. et al. (2017). "Phytochemistry of Cannabis sativa L.". Progress in the Chemistry of Organic Natural Products 103: 1–36. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-45541-9_1. PMID 28120229. 


Law and regulation


Standards and guidance


Testing


New York State Department of Health:


Accreditation and certification


Publications and blogs

Education and training


Scientific conferences and trade shows


Associations, organizations, and interest groups

Table 1. Global and national entities
Entity Description from website
Agricultural Genomics Foundation "non-profit organization that aims to understand the biology of new and emerging crops with industrial and medical value such as Cannabis and educate the public about the scientific findings"
American Cannabis Nurses Association "national organization dedicated to expanding the knowledge base of endo-cannabinoid therapeutics among nurses"
American Chemical Society, Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision "to be recognized as the leading chemistry authority on the safe & beneficial processing, extraction, and purity analysis of cannabis products"
American Herbal Products Association "national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry"
American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association "a membership driven association, focusing on providing physicians and healthcare professionals with the resources they need to safely and effectively utilize medical marijuana recommendations as an alternative treatment modality for their patients"
American Oil Chemists Society "advances the science and technology of oils, fats, proteins, surfactants, and related materials, enriching the lives of people everywhere"
American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp "a 501(c)(6) trade organization ... founded to promote the expansion, protection, and preservation of businesses engaged in the legal trade of industrial, medical, and recreational cannabis and hemp based products"
Americans for Safe Access "national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research"
Association of Cannabis Specialists "provide evidence and experience-based education for patients, cannabis clinicians, referring clinicians, and lawmakers to help them understand cannabis medicine and make informed decision"
Association of Commercial Cannabis Laboratories "seeks to encourage scientific acumen and responsibility among Cannabis testing labs, and to establish inter-laboratory standards and proficiencies"
Cannabis Council of Canada "national organization of Canada’s licensed producers of Cannabis under Health Canada’s federal Cannabis Act"
Cannabis Horticultural Association "an authoritative and first choice for people seeking to learn how to cultivate clean, high grade cannabis through the objective information and education on sustainable and regenerative management practices"
Cannabis Safety Institute "an advisory board of scientists, doctors, and regulatory experts committed to providing the rigorous scientific data and expertise necessary to ensure the safety of the legal cannabis industry"
Cannabis Science Interest (CSI) Group part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "aims to promote discussion and knowledge dissemination about cutting edge scientific findings as well as changes in policy and legal status of cannabis, in order to generate innovative ideas for NIDA's research portfolio and dissemination/outreach strategies for all audiences"
Cannabis Trade Federation "a national coalition of cannabis-related businesses that represent all aspects of the industry including cultivators, dispensaries, wholesalers, distributors, and ancillary businesses"
Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy "to promote public and private efforts to use cannabis legalization to end the war on drugs, or 'prohibition'"
Doctors for Cannabis Regulation "a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy for the legalization, taxation and—above all—the effective regulation of marijuana in the United States"
Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards "to protect public health, consumer safety, and safeguard the environment by promoting integrity in the cannabis industry"
Hemp Industries Association "a non-profit trade association representing more than one-thousand (1,000) supporters, farmers and business members serving the hemp industries since 1994"
HeroGrown "to raise awareness, advocate, and assist veterans, first responders and their families with the use of cannabis as a safe alternative to deadly prescription drugs"
International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines "to advance knowledge on cannabis, cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and related topics especially with regard to their therapeutic potential"
International Cannabinoid Research Society "to (1) foster cannabinoid research; (2) promote the exchange of scientific information and perspectives about Cannabis, the cannabinoids, and endocannabinoids through the organization of scientific meetings; (3) serve as a source of reliable information regarding the chemistry, pharmacology, therapeutic uses, toxicology and the behavioral, psychological, and social effects of cannabis and its constituents"
International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute "identifies, coordinates and supports global research priorities for the advancement of cannabis and cannabinoid treatments through a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach that incorporates innovative tools and methods"
Medical Cannabis Institute, The "provides online medical education for healthcare professionals who want to learn about medical cannabis and its potential clinical application"
Medical Cannabis Society "to foster a model medical cannabis industry in the United States through education and leadership"
Minority Cannabis Business Association "501(c)(6) not-for-profit business league created to serve the specific needs of minority cannabis entrepreneurs, workers, and patients/consumers"
Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies "a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana"
National Association of Cannabis Businesses "a self-governing community, focused on differentiating themselves to regulators, the public and others brands or competitors as the most legitimate, professional and trustworthy businesses in the industry"
National Cannabis Bar Association "to educate and connect with other cannabis industry lawyers for the purpose of providing excellent, ethical, and advanced legal assistance to this growing industry"
National Cannabis Industry Association "to promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and work for a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for that industry in the United States"
National Hemp Association "to support the growth and development of all aspects of the industrial hemp industry"
NORML "to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable"
Open Cannabis Project "a community-led, research-driven non-profit with a simple mission: to defend the richness and diversity of cannabis from overbroad patents"
Patients Out of Time "a non-profit 501c3 corporation of the Commonwealth of Virginia that provides education to all disciplines of health care professionals; their specialty and professional organizations; the legal profession; and the public at large, about medical cannabis (marijuana)"
Project CBD "to create a world where cannabis empowers people to take an active role in their health"
Smart Approaches to Marijuana "an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy"
Society of Cannabis Clinicians "a 5013 non-profit organization dedicated to educating physicians about the medical use of cannabis"
Transnational Institute, The "to strengthen international social movements with rigorous research, reliable information, sound analysis and constructive proposals that advance progressive, democratic policy change and common solutions to global problems"
Veterans Cannabis Project "to improving US military veterans’ quality of life through the opportunity of cannabis"
Women Grow "a for-profit entity that serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale"

Regional

Table 2. Regional entities
Entity Region/locality served Description from website
Alaska Marijuana Industry Association Alaska to "promote and advocate for a vibrant and reasonably regulated Alaska-based marijuana industry"
Arizona Medical Cannabis Association Arizona an information sharing portal about Arizona's medical marijuana "designated caregiver" laws
Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association Arkansas "a 501(c)(6) cannabis industry trade association advocating for laws, regulations and public policies that foster a healthy, professional and accountable medical cannabis industry in our state"
Arkansas Medical Marijuana Association Arkansas "the leading voice for medical marijuana cultivators, distributors and businesses that serve the industry in the Natural State"
California Cannabis Industry Association California "to promote the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry and work for a favorable social, economic, and legal environment for our industry in the state of California"
Cannabis Trade Council Colorado "to help the cannabis industry to grow and flourish through self-regulation while keeping the needs of the patient foremost"
Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Colorado "a nonprofit chamber of cannabis businesses that focuses on policies at the state and local levels of government"
Colorado Leads Colorado "a pro-business alliance created to help educate the general public about the economic and community benefits of a safe, regulated medical and recreational cannabis industry"
Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Network Delaware "to build and support a network of business owners, professionals and grassroots activists advocating to legalize cannabis in the First State"
Florida for Care Florida "a non-profit 501C(4) founded in 2014 to advocate for the implementation of a strong, well-regulated, medical marijuana system under Amendment 2"
Florida Medical Cannabis Industry Association Florida "a professional trade association advocating for public policies that foster a safe, professional and accountable medical marijuana industry in Florida"
Hawaiʻi Dispensary Alliance Hawaii "a 501c(6) membership organization that brings together Hawai‘i’s patients, dispensaries, related businesses, and local communities through education, resources, and community building to advocate for favorable legal, social, and economic changes for Hawai‘i’s legitimate cannabis industry"
Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association Nevada "a chamber of commerce for medical marijuana, organized to promote the medical marijuana industry in Nevada"
Marijuana Industry Group Colorado "to advance appropriate legislation, regulation and implementation of Colorado’s licensing and regulatory program"
Marijuana Industry Trade Association Arizona "professionals, entrepreneurs, educators, and advocates united to build a strong and sustainable future for the cannabis industry in Arizona"
Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition Maryland to improve honest dialogue, remove criminal penalties for possession, and ensure proper regulation and taxation of cannabis sales in Maryland, among other goals
Maryland Medical Dispensary Association Maryland "a professional trade association advocating for laws, regulations and public policies that foster a healthy, professional and secure medical cannabis industry in our state"
Maryland Wholesale Medical Cannabis Trade Association Maryland "promotes the responsible advancement of the medical cannabis industry in Maryland by fostering a favorable social, economic and legal climate"
Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Dispensers' Association Massachusetts "to provide guidelines, best practices, vendor support, government regulation compliance and up to date research and knowledge about our industry"
Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois Illinois "a trade association representing cultivation centers and dispensary organizations, who are licensed by the State through the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program"
Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii Hawaii "an independent community driven effort to support medical cannabis patients and caregivers in Hawai‘i"
Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine Maine "a Maine trade association dedicated to the support and promotion of safe access to medical marijuana"
Michigan Medical Marijuana Association Michigan not particularly clear on the website what their mission is
Montana Cannabis Industry Association Montana "a safe, functional, responsible and accountable program that meets the needs of patients, communities, and providers"
National Cannabis Industry Association of Ohio Ohio "to ensure a successful and responsible medical cannabis industry in Ohio by promoting sensible laws, regulations and public policies"
Nevada Dispensary Association Nevada "to developing and promoting best practices among Nevada marijuana dispensaries as well as supporting the efforts of marijuana establishments to provide high quality, safe marijuana to Nevada’s consumers"
New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association New Jersey "to promote sensible policy, responsible growth and development of New Jersey’s cannabis industry"
Ohio Cannabis Association Ohio "promotes a responsible expansion of the industry in order to best serve every resident of Ohio"
Oregon Cannabis Association Oregon "a diverse group of cultivators, processors, retailers, entrepreneurs, and allied businesses ... [dedicated] to help one another thrive through networking events, educational workshops, and political representation"
Oregon Cannabis Business Council Oregon "a member-driven trade association that provides professional assistance to post-cultivation cannabis businesses and representation for the industry in state legislative and regulatory decision making"
Texas Cannabis Industry Association Texas "promotes and works to ensure the favorable social, economic and legal environment necessary for a legitimate and responsible cannabis industry in Texas"
Washington CannabBusiness Association Washington (state) "to advocate on behalf of our member companies in the legislative, regulatory, legal and public policy arenas"
Washington Cannabis Laboratory Association Washington (state) "a group of active cannabis labs working together toward a normative framework for cannabis analytics"
Washington Sungrowers Industry Association Washington (state) "to support sungrown cannabis by encouraging environmental and economic sustainability through advocacy, education, and research"

Consultancy and support services

The following entities are known to provide consulting and support services of various types to cannabis testing labs (as well as cultivators, dispensaries, etc.):

Testing labs and pricing info

Canada

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The following are licensed cannabis testing labs, as reported by Health Canada[1]:

Alberta


British Columbia


Manitoba


New Brunswick

  • RPC (Pricing not public)


Nova Scotia


Ontario


Prince Edward Island


Quebec


Saskatchewan

United States

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The prevalence of testing laboratories in any given state depends on a few factors: legalization status, state laws regarding testing, and strictness of regulations. Labs typically appear as stand-alone, third-party entities. Though not common, some testing laboratories are located within dispensaries (e.g., Champlain Valley Dispensary in Vermont[2]) and treatment centers (e.g., Sanctuary ATC in New Hampshire.[3]).

The following are known active cannabis testing labs (those currently in the licensing process are not included):

Alaska


Arizona:


Arkansas:


California:


Colorado:


Connecticut:


Delaware:


District of Columbia:


Florida:


Hawaii:


Illinois:


Louisiana:

  • Due to an absence of independent testing labs, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture is testing, as of October 2018[5]


Maine:


Maryland:


Massachusetts:


Michigan:


Minnesota:

  • Not clear; independent labs must be approved by Commissioner of Health.[6] Two labs—Aspen Research and Legend Technical Services—were approved to do testing in 2015, but neither lists those services on their website.[7]


Missouri:

  • Medical marijuana passed in November 2018; Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services needs to develop testing rules[8]


Montana:


Nevada:


New Hampshire:

  • The state mandates testing, but it's not clear which independent laboratories are approved to do so. Alternative treatment centers may be responsible for own testing.


New Jersey:


New Mexico:

  • Scepter Lab (No website)
  • Scientific Base Solutions (No website)
  • Steep Hill New Mexico (Pricing not public)


New York:

  • "The Department's Wadsworth Center Laboratory will perform initial testing and analysis of final medical marijuana products until independent laboratories receive certification from the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP)."[10]


North Carolina:

  • Avazyme (Industrial hemp testing; pricing not public)


North Dakota:


Ohio:


Oklahoma:

  • As of March 11, 2019, a bill containing testing standards and licensing is set to be signed by the governor.[14]
  • Express Toxicology Services ($20–$600, single and package tests)


Oregon


Pennsylvania:


Rhode Island:

  • Rhode Island Department of Health began taking applications for testing labs in September 2018.[15]
  • East Coast Labs (Pricing not public)


Utah:

  • Medical marijuana passed in November 2018; the state is still working on laboratory testing terms[16]


Vermont:

  • The Department of Public Safety "may require laboratory testing of cannabis produced by a registered dispensary. The Department may specify the testing methodology. The registered dispensary shall bear the costs of any testing required by the Department."[17]
  • Champlain Valley Dispenary (News article indicates may be accepting testing from non-patients; $75-$125/sample for potency[18])
  • Nutraceutical Science Laboratories (Pricing not public)


Washington:


West Virginia:

  • Still working on developing its medical cannabis program.[19] Draft legislation says the Bureau for Public Health will be responsible for approving testing laboratories.[20]


Wisconsin:


Mexico

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Recreational cannabis will potentially be legalized in Mexico in 2019.[21][22]


 
 
 
 

References

  1. Health Canada (17 August 2018). "Laboratories licensed to conduct activities with cannabis". Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/list-licensed-dealers.html. Retrieved 16 March 2019. 
  2. "Our Quality Commitment". Champlain Valley Dispensary, Inc. http://www.cvdvt.org/products/quality-commitment/. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  3. "New Hampshire Therapeutic Cannabis Laboratory Analysis — Therapeutic Uses". Sanctuary ATC. http://www.sanctuaryatc.org/laboratory-analysis-nh.php. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  4. Flood, C. (15 November 2016). "State contracts medical marijuana tester". Cape Gazette. http://www.capegazette.com/article/state-contracts-medical-marijuana-tester/120159. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  5. Karlin, S. (23 October 2018). "Louisiana medical marijuana delayed after state forced to do product testing, company says". The Advocate. https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_b05f7ca4-d6fe-11e8-b997-8ff7036b6c47.html. Retrieved 27 November 2018. 
  6. Klarqvist, E. (August 2016). "Minnesota’s Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research Act" (PDF). Minnesota House of Representatives. http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/MCTRA.pdf. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  7. "Public Health Laboratory Annual Report: Fiscal Year 2015" (PDF). Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory. 2016. https://www.leg.state.mn.us/docs/2016/other/160894.pdf. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  8. Marso, A. (16 November 2018). "Medical marijuana in Missouri: When—and if—you can get it". The Kansas City Star. https://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article221302705.html. Retrieved 27 November 2018. 
  9. "Medicinal Marijuana Program Rules" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. 23 November 2011. http://www.state.nj.us/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/final_rules.pdf. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  10. "Frequently Asked Questions". New York State Medical Marijuana Program. New York State Department of Health. March 2016. https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/faq.htm. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  11. "Initiated Constitutional Amendment No. 5" (PDF). North Dakota Secretary of State. 2016. https://vip.sos.nd.gov/pdfs/Measures%20Info/2016%20General/Measure%205.pdf. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  12. "North Dakota chooses medical marijuana laboratory company". The Associated Press. 21 May 2018. https://www.apnews.com/397eab5555e84454af2833c2763ba481. Retrieved 27 November 2018. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Provance, J. (21 September 2018). "Toledo lab licensed for medical marijuana testing". The Blade. https://www.toledoblade.com/local/2018/09/21/Toledo-lab-picked-for-medical-marijuana-testing-ACT-Laboratories-of-Ohio/stories/20180921147. Retrieved 27 November 2018. 
  14. Dishman, D. (11 March 2019). "Unity Bill for medical marijuana regulations expected to clear Senate this week". NewsOK.com. https://newsok.com/article/5625478/unity-bill-for-medical-marijuana-regulations-expected-to-clear-senate-this-week?. Retrieved 12 March 2019. 
  15. Bentley, J. (17 September 2018). "RI Department of Health Seeking Medical Marijuana Testing Labs". Patch - Newport. https://patch.com/rhode-island/newport/ri-department-health-seeking-medical-marijuana-testing-labs. Retrieved 29 November 2018. 
  16. Utah State Legislature (14 November 2018). "Utah Medical Cannabis Act Overview" (PDF). State of Utah. https://le.utah.gov/interim/2018/pdf/00004612.pdf. Retrieved 29 November 2018. 
  17. "Rules Regulating Cannabis for Symptom Relief" (PDF). Vermont Department of Public Safety. 30 November 2015. http://vcic.vermont.gov/sites/vcic/files/files/marijuana-registry/MR-Rules-Regulating-Cannabis-for-Symptom-Relief.pdf. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  18. Baird, J.B. (12 June 2018). "Test the potency of your VT homegrown marijuana". Burlington Free Press. https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2018/06/12/vermonters-can-legally-test-cannabis-potency/659507002/. Retrieved 27 November 2018. 
  19. "Office of Medical Cannabis". Bureau for Public Health. State of West Virginia. https://dhhr.wv.gov/bph/Pages/Medical-Cannabis-Program.aspx. Retrieved 29 November 2018. 
  20. Bureau for Public Health (14 December 2017). "Title 64, Legislative Rule, Bureau for Public Health, Series 111, Medical Cannabis Program - Laboratories" (PDF). State of West Virginia. http://dhhr.wv.gov/bph/Documents/MedicalCannabis/Proposed%20Rules/Medical%20Cannabis%20Program%20-%20Laboratories%20-%2064%20CSR%20111%20v1.pdf. Retrieved 29 November 2018. 
  21. Hasse, J. (12 February 2019). "This Former President Thinks Mexico Could Soon Be Exporting Cannabis To The U.S., Legally". Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/javierhasse/2019/02/12/this-former-president-thinks-mexico-could-soon-be-exporting-cannabis-to-the-us-legally/. Retrieved 16 March 2019. 
  22. Jaeger, K. (08 February 2019). "Mexican Senate Report Lays Out Marijuana Legalization Considerations". Marijuana Moment. https://www.marijuanamoment.net/mexican-senate-report-lays-out-marijuana-legalization-considerations/. Retrieved 16 March 2019. 

Citation information for this chapter

Chapters: 6. Final thoughts and 7. Resources

Title: Past, Present, and Future of Cannabis Laboratory Testing and Regulation in the United States

Edition: Second edition

Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: December 2018