The Impact Of Contamination On The Cannabis Industry

Posted by Milan Patel on May 10, 2018

Effective Marijuana Testing


Since its legalization in 1996 in California, medical marijuana has brought in an estimated $50 million to $109 million in taxes for the state each year. Predictions vary, but many believe the state will eventually make more than $1 billion annually from taxing recreational marijuana.

When Californians voted to legalize recreational weed, the state saw an opportunity to reign in this largely unregulated market, and regulations are catching up with the now legal recreational cannabis industry in California. It is estimated that up to 30% of cannabis grown in the US is contaminated with some type of bacteria or mold. Inhaling some of these pathogens can be fatal. Spraying pesticides and fungicides over plants further confounds the problem of testing. Recent deaths and severe cases of bleeding due to contaminated cannabis in other states demonstrate why regulatory agencies, like the FDA and USDA are concerned about risks to public health by microbial contamination when standards and reliable pathogen screening protocols are not implemented.

On January 1, 2018, certified third party cannabis lab testing became required for all cannabis products sold commercially in California. Testing requirements are not required all at once and are being phased in over the course of 2018. The next phase-in begins this summer on July 1st.

By this date, only lab-tested cannabis products will be allowed in the licensed retail market. As the July 1st deadline approaches, every legal marijuana testing lab in California will soon be inundated with samples to be tested in the coming weeks. This legal requirement poses some sticky problems with the state’s lean number of licensed cannabis lab testing facilities.

While this will mean a big spike in business for established licensed labs, most cannabis testing labs that service California are predicting a shortage of testing services that will lead to significant log jams. Add to this longer wait times for results and delays at the retail end in receiving approval to sell cannabis products and the entire industry could grind to a crawl. This same scenario happened in Oregon and Colorado where they experienced huge delays in turnaround times despite the sufficient number of testing labs.

In California, many labs are not able to do the testing as legally required, and some are not even open for business yet. Marijuana products may have several stages in the life cycle where they need to be tested, necessitating a single product to be tested multiple times. Many flower, oil and edibles need testing throughout the life cycle, adding to the length of time from raw plant to retail shelf.

Problems can be further compounded if your lab business is responsible for unexpected delays from retesting inaccurate results, pushing more customers down the waiting list. In some states remediation when a sample is tested positive for some pathogens is no longer allowed resulting in having to destroy the crop. Some cannabis testing labs use inadequate methods and technologies and produce puzzling inconclusive results causing more frustration to the customers. Customers pay for and expect reasonable speed and, above all, accuracy. These features will be paramount for any lab to gain customer loyalty and retain repeat business during these first turbulent months of regulatory oversight.

The time for testing labs to prepare for increased oversight is now. Fast turnaround time will be crucial, and with most standard testing methods requiring from 1 to up to 4 days, this is a good time to look at a revolutionary test that can provide definitive results in 6 hours from a raw sample.

PathogenDx is a DNA-based pathogen testing technology for the cannabis, botanical, food and agriculture industry. It has the ability to detect up to 30 pathogens, including E.coli, powdery mildew and pseudomonas spp, to name a few. This is the world’s fastest microbial test in cannabis, and also has the capability to quantify the amount of yeast, mold, aerobic bacteria, coliform, and bile tolerant gram pathogens.

PathogenDx has the ability to test multiple microbials at the same time in a sample, while at the same time testing multiple samples all in a single day. This is the true discriminator of the technology compared to today’s methods where each microbial is tested one at a time per sample. Detection is so specific that it identifies and differentiates between “good” and “bad” microbes so a lab will not fail samples on indicator organisms. PathogenDx tests for all the state-regulated microbial organisms in one test with a minimum of 20% total cost savings per sample compared to other solutions on the market.

Fast, simple, accurate and cost-saving DNA-based microbial detection protects the lab and the end-users. To learn more, contact PathogenDx at or 800-641-5751 and ask for the demo of the effective testing kits.

Don’t let your lab become part of the regulatory bottleneck this summer. The $3.7 billion California cannabis industry faces enormous challenges and economic loss when labs turn to pathogen testing methods that are not fast, precise, reproducible and confirmatory.

Topics: cannabis testing

Written by Milan Patel