PharmLabs’ Sample Intake Specialist Alicia Morf knows the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Emergency Regulations like the back of her hand. Here are the most important takeaways:
- Beginning July 1st, CA’s cannabis retailers can only sell tested products.
- Many businesses are confused by the proposed legislation.
- PharmLabs, a premier testing facility, helps businesses achieve compliance through required lab testing.
- Products that fail testing can still have a future.
- The BCC can visit your business unannounced and at any time.
It’s still the wild, wild West in the world of legal weed, with many cannabis companies blatantly breaking state laws on an ongoing basis. But the industry is preparing for a major shakeup come July 1, when California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) will start cracking down on cannabis retailers selling untested products.
To learn more about what this means for local growers, distributors, and dispensaries, we visited PharmLabs San Diego, SoCal’s premier cannabis testing lab. PharmLabs specializes in a wide range of potency and contamination tests, and they’re considered a pioneer in the industry, paving the way with accurate, affordable, and fast cannabis testing services.
We took a tour of PharmLabs’ facility and were grateful to speak with Sample Intake Specialist Alicia Morf about how local canna-businesses can comply with the state’s new legislation. Her valuable insights should open the eyes of anyone confused by California Compliance Testing.
4Blooms: Are cannabis businesses taking the new laws seriously?
Alicia Morf: Yes and no. Companies are not really testing for California Compliance yet. That’s the biggest issue right now: No one’s doing it. Everyone’s kind of in the red and hoping they don’t get caught and hoping they still get a permanent license. And there are many businesses still operating in the black market.
Why aren’t more cannabis businesses testing?
There is a grey area where products cultivated or manufactured before 2018 may be sold with the label “not tested” until July 1. Another one of the reasons may be money. It’s expensive and not something that was required prior to the new legislation. In order for a cannabis product to be sold in accordance with California Compliance Testing, it must be sampled and transported by a member of our team. It is also mandatory that we test for a primary and duplicate sample, so it is double the money, double the work, and double the time to ensure accurate results.
What kind of testing does PharmLabs offer?
We offer California Compliance Testing and Informational Testing for Research and Development of cannabis and cannabis products. California Compliance Testing is what the BCC has required, and all Compliance tests go straight to the government. Informational Tests, on the other hand, do not get sent to the state.
Why is Informational Testing important?
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Informational cannabis testing can help with many things including knowing if the ratio to THC to CBD is in your target range for the final product, if it is contaminant free, and for harvest optimization. Testing a week before your normal harvest time and a week after your normal harvest time can give us information to compare and find out if you are maximizing the plant’s yield of cannabinoids and terpenes. Another thing we test is source trim or distillate. It is helpful to test the original products purchased through another source before mixing it with your product.
What sample sizes are required for testing flower?
We have to take primary and duplicate samples and test them both. The law requires .35 percent of a harvest batch, and another .35 percent for the secondary sample. Our team will homogenize the samples to get an accurate representation of the batch. The primary sample will be released for results, and the secondary sample is for quality assurance. So, if we do two tests of your product—and they’re totally different—that’s a red flag. For individual informational cannabis testing it varies how much flower is necessary per test.
What businesses are required to test their products?
Distributors and manufacturers will have to test by law right now. It used to be dispensaries who were testing, and we still have some that test, but mostly just for potency at this time.
If a product fails cannabis testing, is it forever doomed?
If a marijuana product fails because of, for instance, pesticides, our customers can remediate that batch two more times. But for California Compliance Testing, they can only have that sample tested twice, and if it fails both times, it’s done and can never be sold.
Is educating the public a big part of your job?
Definitely! We have a lot of information on our website but we know that being able to speak with someone knowledgeable to answer many questions at once puts our clients at ease. A lot of our day is potential clients calling to ask questions instead of going on the internet and reading the Proposed Text of Regulations (they’re so long!)
Why are people so confused about the laws going into effect in July?
A lot of the laws seem to be up for interpretation. When read by different people certain parts of the emergency regulations can be understood differently. For example, we used to test for mold and yeast. Other states do, but we’re not required to. I feel that’s very strange, and clients still request these tests. We are testing for Aspergillus, E. coli, and other things, but we’re not testing for mold and yeast anymore. We have the ability to but it’s not required by the state. So I’m thinking that is something that will change.
What should businesses worry about if they don’t comply with new regulations?
The BCC showing up at their establishment. I’ve gone out and spoken with distributors, and they’re saying, “No one’s testing until July, so we’re waiting till then.” That’s not the law, and you might get in trouble including hefty fines and the possibility of losing your license. The BCC came here unannounced to check things out, but we were fine—we are ISO certified and we’ve been doing this for years. Yet it’s still unnerving when they show up out of nowhere, and it’s better to be prepared.
What would you say to encourage more cannabis businesses to start testing?
We’re all in this together. The industry’s strong, and we’re here to help you. Yet if you fail, then we fail. So we’re watching out for everybody, because if there’s no grower, then there’s no cannabis, and we can’t test anything. Everyone’s out; it’s a full circle.
Learn more about PharmLabs and California Compliance Testing at www.pharmlabscannabistesting.com. And stay tuned for Part II of our interview with Alicia Morf, wherein we’ll discuss terpenes, the Entourage Effect, and what risks untested cannabis poses for consumers.