BY RUTH HILL R.N.

What started out as a small friendly sun grown cannabis competition in Mendocino, CA is now elevated to an event rivaling our Coachella Valley Music Festivals. The Challis Cup and The Emerald Cup are two competitions of local organically farmed cannabis. Food vendors, educational speakers and music artists gather to watch growers compete for the purest medically grown cannabis flower. 

These test competitions are fun, voluntary, and educational as the booming cannabis industry becomes legal in twenty-nine states and enters the food market. Three well known in California are; SC Labs https://www.sclabs.com Steep Hill Labs https://www.steephill.com/ Infinite Chemical Lab http://infinitecal.com/ There is even an Association of Commercial Cannabis Laboratories.   http://www.cacannabislabs.com/

The SC Lab website summarizes the 115 page CA Board of Cannabis Control (BCC) testing regulations. Basically, there are two categories: Regulatory Compliant and R&D testing. Each state has varying rules.

Regulatory compliance tests must be reported to individual states’ track and trace system and may be used to either validate or disqualify batches as eligible for market. The tests required by the states include testing cannabis flowers, concentrates, leaves, e-liquids/vape oils, crystallized isolates, as well as liquid and solid infused products such as coconut oils, tinctures and edibles. Regulatory compliance requires the lab to obtain the sampling.

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CA and OR both require testing for cannabinoids, terpenoids, residual pesticides, residual solvents, and processing chemical, microbial impurities, homogeneity, and moisture content. Phase III testing in 2018 will also include mycotoxin, heavy metals, filth and foreign material, and water activity testing.

R&D tests are for internal use by producers, manufacturers, distributors, patients, etc. and are not reported to the state and are not associated with batches. R&D tests do not require the labs to perform the sampling; utilizes a smaller sample-size; and can be done on a single test basis whereas regulatory compliant testing can only be purchased as a panel of tests. (go to http://www.bcc.ca.gov/law_regs/bcc_prop_text_reg.pdf for the detail)

Doug Dracup, the founder of The Chalice Cup, “believes the ‘chalice’ is the cup of all cups, the ultimate achievement. It stands out as that one thing that will actually be an accomplishment for someone who’s truly part of the industry.” SC Labs will again be the favored testing lab at the next Challis Cup to be held on July 13-15, 2018 at the San Bernardino Fair Grounds. Go to https://www.chalicecalifornia.com/ for info and tickets.

All three labs offer other services in addition to testing: education, business solutions for cannabis companies, customizable client profile page on their website, marketing materials with unique labels, strain cards, QR codes and watermarked analysis reports. Included can be budtender training and educational materials for patients, 

SC Labs has on its website the details of testing requirements by the State of CA. Under current Bureau of Cannabis Control Emergency Regulation Text (11/16/2017), the required testing will roll out in three phases starting with Phase I on January 1, 2018 and continuing with Phases II & III beginning in July 2018 and January 2019. Each batch of cannabis will need to be tested for cannabinoid levels, residual solvents and processing chemicals. Producers can avoid testing if the already have product from 2017 until the start of phase two in July 2018 as long as they are labeled as not tested.

Look for the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO 17025 sign of approval, for the testing lab you choose. ISO, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest recognized leader in accrediting environmental, food, and now, cannabis laboratories. The State of California will be requiring ISO 17025 accreditation in the future.

Other than testing to make the cannabis food compliant what are the other important reasons we test cannabis? There are over a hundred cannabinoids, 300-400 terpenes, and two thousand strains as a result of the explosive cultivating and cross breeding in the last 10-20 years. Testing for these molecules is increasing the cost of medicinal cannabis however, in the long run the cannabis you ingest, smoke, vape or eat will be chosen for the unique cannabinoid, terpenoid or flavonoid genome markers more likely to treat your aliment.

Ruth Hill educates on medical cannabis hilruth@gmail.com

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