Because cannabis is still considered illegal at the federal level, the responsibility of regulating cannabis and cannabis-derived products falls to states, creating a patchwork of different testing requirements across the country. In addition, state governments issue little to no guidance about protocols for testing products for either potency or safety. Instead, labs have had to trailblaze the development of their own methods.
Now, in a cannabis testing industry that is only a few years old, it’s evident that reports on potency can vary from lab to lab, and recalls of contaminated products happen across the country, threatening consumer trust. “It’s not really at all like any other industry I’ve worked in, in that they’re still trying to work out proficiency and certification standards,” notes Frank Conrad, an analytical chemist formerly in the biofuels industry who now runs Colorado Green Lab, a consultancy firm for the cannabis industry.