Although humans have consumed cannabis for thousands of years, the commercial cannabis industry has enlightened producers and consumers alike of the dangers which could be lurking in their cannabis products. From molds and bacteria to pesticides and heavy metals, lab-tested cannabis goes far beyond fundamental potency analysis.
When CannaSafe first started testing for pesticides in 2017, they were so shocked by the results, they questioned their methods and repeated the tests. “Is this right?” the technicians wondered.
During an interview with Cannabis Tech, Aaron Riley, CEO at CannaSafe, recalled thinking, “Is this us or them?” Despite doubting the results, further testing revealed the ugly truth, and he said, “The complete disregard for consumers was kind of scary.” He continued, “Today, we’re in a much better time, cannabis products are checked out more thoroughly.”
As the first ISO accredited cannabis lab in the world, CannaSafe, California’s top-rated testing facility, gained certification in 2012. To date, the company tests around 33 percent of the compliant cannabis products throughout the state at their 12,500 square foot laboratory in Los Angeles. In addition to being the official lab for High Times Cannabis Cup and being voted best cannabis lab by DOPE Magazine, Emerald Scientific awarded CannaSafe with seven badges for various cannabis screenings.
Beyond Potency Testing
In today’s cannabis market, consumers expect to see potency testing for common cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. However, as the industry advances, the demand for additional testing for minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN, and other compounds like terpenes, also increases. CannaSafe analyzes cannabis for 11 cannabinoids and around 20 different terpenes. Other tests offered by CannaSafe include foreign materials, mycotoxins, and moisture content and water activity.
Naturally, consumer safety is of utmost importance. California currently requires testing for 66 pesticides known to be harmful to consumers. Besides testing for all restricted pesticides, CannaSafe also tests for microbial contaminants like E. Coli and Salmonella, as well as heavy metals.
“[Cannabis and hemp] uptake everything in their environment. Any contaminants in the area, cannabis can absorb,” Riley noted.
According to the Food and Agricultural Association, soil contamination is reaching dangerous levels all around the world. While hemp can potentially help remediate the soil, the question of consumer safety remains.
Striving for Better Hemp Testing
Unlike the controlled environments of most cannabis cultivation, many hemp farms must endure the elements and outside influence. Regardless of the farmer’s practices, Riley pointed out, “Even a neighbor, who crop dusts, could present a problem for hemp crops, and a potential health hazard for the end user.”
Riley said, “We do have some top CBD brands that we test for,” although CannaSafe expects to expand more into hemp and CBD testing in the future. On the status of testing in the hemp industry, Riley stated, “Similar to the early days of cannabis, about 70 percent of products are junk right now.” He continued by pointing out the many problems plague the industry, including “not enough CBD, crazy solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides.”
On the Horizon for CannaSafe
CannaSafe has plans to open another laboratory in North California, which will allow them to handle over 50% of all the cannabis testing in the Golden State. Additionally, Riley mentioned that the company has plans for a full CBD lab by the end of the year to help handle the influx of hemp and CBD products.
Long term, Riley stated expanding to other states isn’t out of the question with two opportunities pending across the United States. “We have several opportunities on our plate, and we need to prioritize,” he said, noting limited people resources to grow. “There aren’t many cannabis lab veterans in this world. We are pioneers, so we don’t have a deep talent pool. We have to develop people.”
A Trusted Name in Quality Cannabis Testing
Overall, CannaSafe wants to be recognized as a trusted resource for cannabis industry professionals and consumers as well. “Our goal is to make sure we can be part of the process to give people access to clean, verified cannabis and hemp products,” Riley commented.
He continued, “When you buy a diamond, you want a certification of its quality. We are going for the same thing in hemp and cannabis – a sigh of relief for the consumer because CannaSafe has verified that it is safe for them.”