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Aurum Labs Shuts Its Doors

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jan 03, 2023   

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Image credit: Aurum Labs

Aurum Labs, a cannabis testing facility in Colorado, has shut down.

Speaking to Analytical Cannabis, the lab’s president confirmed that the company wound down its operations in the closing months of 2022.

The decision to close, they say, was partly due to the pressures of lab shopping.

Another lab down

Founded in the city of Durango in 2014, Aurum Labs went on to become one of the most notable cannabis and hemp testing labs in Colorado. In 2021, it became the second facility in the state to receive a state certificate to test hemp. And in 2022, it became the first “independent” lab in Colorado to be fully certified by the state’s regulator to conduct all compliance tests for industrial hemp products.

Despite these achievements, Aurum’s founders told Analytical Cannabis that the lab was regularly losing clients throughout 2022 to competitor labs that were supposedly willing to alter the test results of products. This kind of unscrupulous practice is known as lab shopping.

“The issue of lab shopping has always existed,” Liz Mason, director of operations at Aurum, told Analytical Cannabis. “And this year [2022], it just became more commonplace behavior.”

Because “high THC” products can command a higher price tag, certain cannabis companies have been known to “shop” their products around different labs to find the facility that will provide the highest THC results. And when enough cannabis companies adopt this practice, honest labs end up with fewer and fewer clients.

“We just continued this past year to lose client after client – longtime, loyal clients,” Liz Mason said.

“Yeah,” Luke Mason, Aurum’s president, added, “[the clients were] just saying to us, ‘Sorry, man, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you guys. You guys have been absolutely great to work with; you’re the best out there. This is just what we have to do to stay competitive.’”

This sense of competition may stem from Colorado’s recent drop in cannabis sales – a likely consequence of neighboring states also legalizing recreational cannabis.

Whatever the reason for it, the competitive climate seems to have pushed Aurum out of the competition and left the state’s cannabis testing sector that little bit more unreliable.

“I feel that there are players in this [industry] that have just really undid [sic] a lot of the good work that a lot of people were doing for a long time […] in the Colorado market – the legitimacy that we have tried to show internationally,” Liz Mason added.

Despite the circumstances of Aurum’s end, the Masons say they’re proud of what their lab achieved in the eight years it operated.

“We employed a lot of great people,” Luke Mason said. “We mentored a lot of young scientists, who have moved onto good roles. We’re really proud of everything that we’ve done.”

Who’s next?

Aurum is the latest in a growing list of cannabis labs that have recently shut their doors.

Last month, Sonoma Lab Works, a cannabis testing lab based in Santa Rosa, California, closed down. Six months prior, CannaSafe Labs, one of the most prominent cannabis testing labs in California, announced it was shutting shop.

Speaking to Analytical Cannabis at the time, CannaSafe’s chief science officer, Ini Afia, explained that lab shopping was the main factor behind the lab’s decision to close.

“The issue of lab shopping and ownership decision not to play in that arena ultimately led to the closure,” he said.

“There hasn’t been substantive action from the DCC [California’s Department of Cannabis Control] even when direct evidence of unscrupulous lab practices were [sic] submitted as complaints to the agency,” Afia continued.

“When people are able to test compliance samples at multiple labs and pick the most favorable result for sale, then it makes it very difficult for labs with integrity to get on the playing field.”

 

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