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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5. Final thoughts

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, 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 cannabinoid and its 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 future; 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.

6. Resources

Key reading


Reference material


Law and regulation


Publications and blogs


Standards and guidance


Accreditation and certification


Testing

New York State Department of Health:


Scientific conferences and trade shows


Associations, organizations, and interest groups


Testing labs and pricing info

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[1]) and treatment centers (e.g., Sanctuary ATC in New Hampshire.[2]).

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

Alaska


Arizona:


Arkansas:

  • Laboratory testing requirements being drafted


California:


Colorado:


Connecticut:


Delaware:


District of Columbia:

  • Steep Hill plans on expanding to here.


Florida:


Hawaii:


Illinois:


Maine:


Maryland:


Massachusetts:


Michigan:


Minnesota:

  • Not clear; independent labs must be approved by Commissioner of Health.[5] Two labs — Aspen Research and Legend Technical Services — were approved to do testing in 2015, but neither lists those services on their website.[6]


Montana:


Nevada:


New Hampshire:

  • The state mandates testing, but it's not clear which independent laboratories are approved to do so.


New Jersey:

  • Cannabis testing is performed by the Department of Health and Senior Services.[7]


New Mexico:


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)."[8]


North Dakota:

  • The state mandates that its compassion centers must test cannabis in-house or have it done by a contracted facility, though it's not clear what labs are performing such testing.[9]


Ohio:

  • Licensing requirements for testing labs will become clearer in September 2017.[10]


Oregon


Pennsylvania:

  • Steep Hill plans on expanding to here. Laboratory testing rules will become clearer later in 2017.[12]


Rhode Island:


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."[13]


Washington:

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 hardware and supplies vendors


Software vendors

Cannabis-oriented LIMS

CDMS

See the CDMS vendor page.

Seed-to-sale

This is a representative sample of solutions and not a directory of all available solutions:

References

  1. "Our Quality Commitment". Champlain Valley Dispensary, Inc. http://www.cvdvt.org/products/quality-commitment/. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  2. "New Hampshire Therapeutic Cannabis Laboratory Analysis — Therapeutic Uses". Sanctuary ATC. http://www.sanctuaryatc.org/laboratory-analysis-nh.php. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  3. "MLab 07012016 this one" (PDF). State of Colorado. 01 July 2016. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/MLab%2007012016%20%20%20this%20one%20.pdf. Retrieved 14 March 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. 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. 
  6. "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. 
  7. "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. 
  8. "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. 
  9. "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. 
  10. "Testing: Frequently Asked Questions". Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program. State of Ohio. http://www.medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov/testing. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "OLCC OKs 26 recreational pot licenses, 4 in Bend". News Channel 21 KTVZ. NPG of Oregon, Inc. 30 September 2016. http://www.ktvz.com/news/olcc-oks-26-recreational-pot-licenses-3-are-in-bend/101328364. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  12. Schmitt, B. (09 November 2016). "Pa. Health Department asks public for input on medical pot rules". Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society. https://www.pamcs.org/pa-health-department-asks-public-input-medical-pot-rules/. Retrieved 02 March 2017. 
  13. "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. 

Citation information for this chapter

Chapters: 5. Final thoughts and 6. Resources

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

Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: April 2017