California warns labs to accurately report cannabis testing results

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California cannabis regulators sent warning notices demanding that state-licensed testing labs accurately report test results or face stiff penalties, including potential license revocation.

The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)’s Lab Division is initiating on-site inspections and confirming test results on flower and other cannabis products that already passed testing, according to an email notification that was sent Thursday to accredited labs and obtained by MJBizDaily.

“Randomly testing off-the-shelf products will continue to provide consumers with the confidence that the cannabis products they purchase have been tested and those test results are accurate,” DCC Director Nicole Elliott told MJBizDaily via email Friday.

The letter alerts testing labs that inflating THC potencies and falsifying scientific data violates state law.

“Inaccurately reporting results and falsification of data will result in action against your license, up to and including revocation,” the notification warned.

If confirmed DCC results fail to coincide with testing results from lab operators, companies might be required to relabel products, the DCC noted.

“It may also lead to recall and/or embargo of the cannabis or cannabis products,” according to the warning.

The notice and potential punishments are rattling some marijuana operators, particularly if the clean-up falls on distributors and product manufacturers.

“This would be a huge financial burden to the brands that are using noncompliant labs,” said Josh Swider, co-founder and CEO of Infinite Chemical Analysis Labs in San Diego.

Lab testing remains controversial, both in the world’s largest cannabis market and nationwide, largely because of inflated THC potencies.

Lab shopping, in which marijuana companies seek labs and results that inflate THC levels in products, is a perennial challenge.

Regulators across the country are trying to rein in the problem with various degrees of success.

In the past few years, state agencies in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Nevada have ramped up enforcement against noncompliant testing labs, issuing heavy fines and suspending licenses in some cases.

Chris Casacchia can be reached at chris.casacchia@mjbizdaily.com.