U.S.: Marijuana Lab Test Results Controversy Discussed

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The latest episode in a series of ongoing podcast interviews offered by Ganjapreneur, a cannabis business website and online resource, explores the cannabis testing world with Dr. Michelle Sexton, founder of Phytalab.

Dr. Sexton is a naturopathic doctor, an editor and advisor on the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Monograph, and was a consultant in the development of Washington's recreational cannabis market.

With legalization continuing to spread, regulators are beginning to take a serious look at cannabis science and the ways it can benefit the distribution of safe, quality products. One of the more common regulatory demands — that all products be tested for potency, contaminants and other criteria by a state-certified laboratory — is a uniquely difficult scientific process in today's world. In fact, many dispensary owners and other cannabis retailers have complained that when submitting samples from the same plant to different testing facilities, they frequently receive varying results.

During the interview, Dr. Sexton establishes that "there's a difference between certification and proficiency. That's the bottom line." Essentially, the people setting the regulations for cannabis testing aren't actually scientists, and there is a disconnect between the way things have wound up and the way things should have been done.

She explains that testing inconsistencies are most likely due to the lack of a scientific base against which the tests should be compared. This, she explains, is a result of the federal prohibition of marijuana.

"The Schedule I status of cannabis has prevented the normal channels who get involved in this type of proficiency work and standardization from doing so," Dr. Sexton explained. "Everybody’s using different methodologies. None of them have been validated by one of the large bodies who does this work professionally," she said.

The full podcast is available on iTunes and via the Ganjapreneur website.