On July 8, California’s Department of Cannabis Control (“DCC”) issued draft regulations looking to standardize cannabis testing across the state. According to a statement, the DCC issued the proposed regulations in reaction to concerns about cannabis potency inflation and “laboratory shopping,” by cannabis businesses looking to secure THC levels that may be higher than what is actually contained in the cannabis flower or product. These new regulations would standardize the ways in which licensed cannabis labs in California can conduct their cannabinoid testing.

Among other things, the proposed regulations would require cannabis labs in California to use specific standard operating procedures and verify the test methods used prior to conducting a test. These new regulations would go into effect by July 1, 2023.

Currently, cannabis labs in California must be licensed by the state. All cannabis goods sold in the state are required to be tested by a licensed cannabis lab. This testing is required to ensure that products are properly labeled regarding cannabinoid content and are free from contaminants.

In announcing the proposed regulations, the DCC’s Director, Nicole Elliott, was quoted as saying that one of the agency’s challenges “in regulating an industry that is not federally recognized, is the lack of standardized, and validated methods for testing.” Director Elliott further explained that individual labs sometimes use “different methods which may produce inconsistent results and inaccurate data on cannabis cannabinoid content,” which the agency is working to change to provide “greater integrity in the market, accurate information for consumers, and confidence among stakeholders.”

The agency is accepting public comments regarding the draft regulations until August 2, 2022. Director Elliott detailed that the agency’s “ultimate goal is protecting public health and safety by providing consumers accurate and consistent information on the cannabis they purchase.”  The DCC is accepting public comments by mail: DCC Legal Affairs Division, 2920 Kilgore Road, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670; by email: publiccomment@cannabis.ca.gov; or verbally at a planned public comment meeting on Aug. 1, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific.

As California is working to unify standards within the state, the National Cannabis Laboratory Council (“NCLC”) is working to nationalize lab standards throughout the 38 states that are currently regulating cannabis for medical or adult use. The NCLC proposed a unified approach to testing based on both data from participating laboratories and scientifically recognized standards, and recently released a white paper entitled Standardizing Cannabis Lab Testing Nationally.