Need advice on BAD testing lab

Hi all, I work at the only medical marijuana extraction lab in my state. Unfortunately I have to keep exact information confidential, but its probably the FIRST STATE that comes to mind.

Small state, so currently we are the only supplier for concentrates, we have co2 oil we put into carts, distillate, RSO, shatter and wax.

In our state, there is only ONE testing lab that we are able to use, this is the ONLY lab that applied to the state to test medical cannabis products. We are not allowed to search for any additional third party testing, and are trying to get our in house testing up and running, but shimadzu has been dropping the ball on us recently. I’m sure you can already see some issues.

We send out test samples, and they send back a sheet that lists each cannabinoid, the testing method and percentage. There is also a section for residual solvents as well, same layout. They use GC-fid and LC, so we have two values for many cannabinoids (not the acids). We do NOT receive the chromatagrams, for any samples, just the list described above.

Our results can be all over the place. We constantly have CO2 oils coming back at high 80’s, some have even been in the 90’s for THC percentage, with total cannabinoids as high as 93%. This was with post kiefed plant material, so emphasis on low quality going in. These numbers to me seem ridiculous, especially since our distillate test around the same.

At the same time, these high testing CO2 oils also normally have anywhere from 5-15% ethanol still in them. We had a test that was 92% cannabinoids, and also said there was 15% residual ethanol.

I know that there are things besides cannabinoids and ethanol in the oil, it is a dark orange color, and will move around in a container at room temperature. It was purged at 170F in a thin layer for more than a day, so even if there was residual ethanol, i would expect it to realistically be way lower and closer to 1% than 15…

Our CBD CO2 oil does not go through any winterization, and is never mixed with ethanol. Yet somehow the test results often show there is still 2+% ethanol in the sample.

I have tried talking to my boss, he said that they have tried to bring up these issues with the testing lab before, but the lab basically said “you don’t know what you are talking about” and ended it at that. The previous manager of our lab quit because of those negative interactions with the testing lab. We are currently labeling all our products with their test results, even if that means putting out a CO2 oil that is 88% THC and 12% ethanol. I am in no way comfortable with this, but I have been ensured that any negative consequences from this ( I have brought it up multiple times to bosses) will fall on the lab only.

What would you do in my situation? is there any authority that can talk to to enlighten them of the current situation? We have tried talking to the lab but they get angry quite easily and have not sent us any chromatagrams at the least, which I asked for. It’s hard to make any improvements on our products when I cant trust the test results. I also can not reach out to another lab because we are not allowed to. I have very little faith in test results from them, and these results are used to formulate tinctures and other consumables, and make me doubt the validity of the posted potency.

Any advice or even just an anecdote about what you would do is appreciated.

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If there are rules that you have to play by, there is also an authority having jurisdiction. Contact them. Let them know what’s up.


Personally I would push to get my company to elevate their standards when it comes to testing and better supporting your concerns. If your lab is this sloppy with potency and RSA testing imagine their microbial or pesticide standards…scary. If your bosses wont change their tune, it is almost certainly YOUR reputation which will suffer should anything problematic occur from sub par testing. I’ve walked away from companies before and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. If you’re actually good at what you do, and you bust your ass you’ll pretty much always land on your feet. Just my $0.02


If one assumes that the farm bill makes interstate transport of CBD kosher, it should be possible to obtain cbd samples with COA from legitimate labs in order to “challenge” the lab you’re currently forced to use.

Pretty much the only way you’re going to prove they’re feeding you nonsense is to actually prove that their results are inconsistent with other labs.

Submitting the same three samples with different names on multiple occasions might also provide you with ammunition when discussing this with the AHJ

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I have thought about this, as well, we are vertically integrated, so I know that there are no pesticides being used. There is a microbial screening in the tests as well, this has never been an issue for concentrates, but some flower has been given to us in the lab for failing microbe tests. These are the things I want to hear from you guys, thanks for your input.

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I would relay these arguments to the state but they may just respond “hey this is the only lab that’s gone through registration so far, what do you want us to do?” It’s a shame this labs customer service is so bad. I guess when they are the only lab around they don’t really need to try and retain customers.


I have heard rumors from people coming around our facility that the owner of the lab is good friends with the MMJ commissioner in our state. Just a rumor I hope. I think I will try and find who I should reach out to and then bring them some of this evidence. I wish there was competition here.

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Coming from someone who has fought with regulation in my state for years, it all depends on the politics behind it. I fought tooth and nail for a couple years (I used to work at a testing lab in my state). Our state is “regulated” but the DOH does not enforce their own rules. It has been a total shit show, and stayed that way regardless of what was told.

Regarding regulation in your state - what are the requirements to opening a lab? What accreditations are required in order to keep their license? Is ISO17025 a requirement? My guess it is not at this time, which means that many labs get away with dry labbing because they know they can. Its an uphill battle, but one worth fighting for especially when consumer safety should be first.

One of my recommendations if you have not done so already, is run some double blind testing if you can afford it. Especially concentrates, there are much lower margin of error on the analytical side for homogenization issues, potency results can change, but at the lab I ran it was within 1-2% everytime we verified something.

Research their regulations and see what, if any, proficiency tests must be required to keep their license, when the last time they did one, including any calibrations that have been completed and how long ago. Do they have any Calibration Verifications in place for their equipment? If not, then they are definitely not running how they should be and ANY test results can be argued against if they do not have data to back up their findings IMO. Remember, if they are regulated by a state body (DOH), FOIA and IPRA requests can be appropriate and completely available to someone requesting the information you need.

Sorry, thats my little rant. You can tell I’ve been thru the ringer fighting bad labs back in my hay day of analytics. I hope things improve and change out there for you, as bad data will not push any industry or facility forward.


Yepmstart the CBD route he’s mentioning. It’s the legal way to gather data to challenge the local stubborn lab
I would also gather data from existing lab samples that conduct similar processes to prove to the owner that your local testing lab is out of rational ranges as well,

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The ISO certification for Labs the 17025 is actually really straightforward stuff that can be confusing if you don’t have experience with it
I’ve worked on both sides both as a consultant and as an auditor for a registrar so i’m familiar with people playing games with this paperwork that’s really required for your processes

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I’m reading all this and wondering if I’ll get anything done before recreational rolls around, I’m guessing that more labs will have to be accredited for that. Time will tell. thanks for input everyone :slight_smile:

Yeah exactly, its really just a straightforward SOP/WI procedure that has a paper trail - one that can still be manipulated if you put thought into it.

@G_Boe as time goes on recreational will bring more players to the analytical side - both good and bad. There will ALWAYS be bad acting labs in ANY industry but hopefully itll bring some good ones around, too. Recreational is definitely not the end all to get labs to be transparent, just look at Washington. They still have issues with bad acting labs.

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