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Compliance Challenges Hit California Cannabis Labs as Only One-Third Approved for THC Testing

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[10th January] – A regulatory shake-up in California's cannabis industry has left fewer than one-third of the state's 37 licensed cannabis testing laboratories permitted to test marijuana flower and non-infused pre-rolls as the new year begins. State regulators, as informed by the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), revealed that only 12 labs currently comply with recent legislation mandating standardized methods for testing THC potency.

Non-compliant labs that have tested marijuana flower may face consequences, according to an agency spokesperson. The move toward standardized testing methods is viewed optimistically by industry observers, who believe it could address the longstanding issue of THC potency inflation, a problem many regulators have been slow to tackle.

Licensed dispensaries across the country have faced criticism for selling products with advertised THC percentages deemed botanically impossible by critics, including scientists. With California boasting over $5 billion in annual marijuana sales, the state represents the largest regulated market in the United States.

Despite the initial disruption caused by the new regulations, industry experts anticipate the standardized testing method to have a positive impact on the market's integrity in the long run. Wesley Hein, the head of global brand expansion at licensed distributor Mammoth Distribution, expressed optimism, stating that the move should “have a beneficial impact on the integrity of the market by making it harder for cheaters to cheat.”

The recent regulatory changes stem from legislation signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021, requiring the DCC to establish a standardized THC testing method, effective January 1, 2024. Of the 37 licensed labs, only those submitting verification reports confirming compliance with the new method are approved for THC testing on marijuana flower and non-infused pre-rolls.

Notably, the 25 labs that did not submit the verification report are still permitted to test edibles, concentrates, and infused pre-rolls. Once they submit the necessary report, they can resume testing dried cannabis and non-infused pre-rolls. The DCC is actively reviewing verification reports and collaborating with licensees to ensure compliance.

As the cannabis industry adjusts to the new regulations, concerns persist about potential repercussions for non-compliant labs and the broader impact on the market's product inventory. Some labs, facing pressure to deliver high THC results, fear losing business to competitors willing to adjust results to meet consumer demands.

Industry stakeholders, including lab owners, emphasize the need for strict consequences for unscrupulous players in the space. However, questions linger about the effectiveness of the standardized testing methods in addressing the potency inflation issue, with uncertainties about whether exceptionally high THC percentages will still persist in the market.

This story was first published by MJBizDaily.

 


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