The Future of Cannabis Testing
Currently, analytes and test methods vary widely from state to state, and even within states. To protect public health, standard accurate methods must be developed for potency (cannabinoids), microbiology and mycotoxins, pesticides, solvents, metals, and terpenes as well as sampling procedures. It is also important to standardize Quality Assurance and Quality Control, so the data is of known and documented quality and is legally defensible.
Proficiency Test Samples (PTs) in real cannabis matrix must be developed to demonstrate true capability. And, effective laboratory accreditation processes must be implemented. As we have seen, laboratories with ISO accreditation do not always produce good, reliable data. Accreditation should also require data integrity and ethics training to help prevent fraud.
Standardized analyte lists must be developed and general cheap microbiology tests such as Total Yeast and Mold Count (TYMC) should be used to evaluate samples for the myriad of species without huge onerous lists. Instrument scans with TICs (tentatively identified compounds) should be required for pesticides and metals so that we can define default analyte lists but also find other harmful chemicals used. This will eliminate the need for huge all-inclusive lists and would also prevent people from rotating to harmful chemicals that are not on the list. Alongside this, data reporting should be standardized taking into account the relationship between Limit of Detection and the Method Detection Limit (LOD/MDL), Limit of Quantitation and Method Reporting Limit (LOQ/MRL) and realistic action limits. Action limits should be standardized at levels that are meaningful but not ridiculously low. If harmful analytes are used, they will be found way above some of the super low levels required by some states.