Testing Helps Every Step: A Conversation with Jeffrey Raber

by | Oct 1, 2020

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

Watch the Video with Jeffrey Raber

Although testing was not always a requirement for cannabis, it has always been a benefit. Revealing and reliable information benefits customers and producers alike as it leads to better products and safer customers.

Industry Testing Standards Are a Slow Journey

Cannabis testing has gotten a mixed reputation because failed batches of flower will not go to market. While this may affect the profits of a cultivator’s harvest, it is a necessary step towards consumer safety. Additionally, shifty cultivators tend to avoid accurate testing in favor of an impressive label. 

On this episode of the podcast Inside the Industry, host Genifer Murray hosted Jeffery Raber, founder of The Werc Shop. Both Murray and Raber founded labs in 2010, and Raber’s website humorously launched on 4/20.

Based on their shared experience, the two have an excellent conversation over the state of testing, and how it has not changed much since 2010. While cannabis legalization and testing standards have felt like an inevitability for over a decade, developing and adopting the standards within a state, or even nationally or internationally, has proven difficult. Not only is bureaucracy slow to change, but some in the business do not want it to either.

Vocabulary and Consistency Make for Honest Markets 

Sativa and indica are useful terms for morphology and marketing, but useless in terms of chemical composition. This information has been around for years, but not adopted by the industry. While they are inadequate for any scientific organization, the public still relies on them when communicating in stores, and so salespeople and brands use the terms. The same reasoning leads to the use of the word “strain”, a word from the world of viruses, instead of cultivar, the standard nomenclature for plants. 

“Medicine should be consistent and standardized,” Raber explained. “If you go buy Blue Dream at one dispensary and three weeks later, you run out, you go down to a different one and buy another Blue Dream and get drastically different effects, that’s not fair to those consumers.” 

Testing for pathogens, pesticides, and THC potency is crucial for any cannabis bud. However, Raber’s lab was offering terpene testing in 2011. There’s always been more to cannabis, medicinally and recreationally, than simply THC concentration. Now that the rest of the industry is catching on to the importance of the ensemble effect of cannabis compounds, this sort of testing is finally receiving the attention it deserves.  

How to Utilize and Support Testing Efforts

First off, many were hesitant to use testing labs before it was mandatory to do so. However, they could access information that would help them save entire batches of products. An example Raber gave revealed a $100 test saved an entire selection of edibles because they weren’t fully decarboxylated. Labs are here to help cultivators and producers, not grade them. The information helps everyone. 

Now that testing is required across the board, the best thing to do is rely on honest labs. Shopping around may lead to higher percentages for a label but consider if it is worth it. As a consumer, consider if you trust those high 20s percentages. 

Join Genifer Murray, in this new podcast, for an insider’s insight into how the industry is evolving and how professionals like Jeffrey Raber are helping ensure quality in a growing industry.