Over one year ago, the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) stated that they planned to implement standardization amongst licensed testing labs across the state. Initial reports indicated that this standardization would begin as early as January 1, 2023, however there were delays due to various factors. The latest messaging from the DCC states that potency testing methods will be standardized and go into effect as of October 1, 2023. This news is welcome to many in the industry as it will ensure that all licensed labs are operating under the same guidelines and procedures. But what does this mean for cannabis businesses and consumers in general? Let’s take a look at the impacts that these changes will have for everyone involved moving forward.
The New Potency Regulations
The first thing to point out is that this October 1, 2023 deadline applies specifically to the testing labs themselves as a way to begin the implementation of the new regulations. All testing labs must be compliant with the new method for testing no later than January 1, 2024. These new methods for testing apply specifically to cannabinoid testing in dried flower and non-infused pre-rolls. The goal of these updates is to ensure that testing labs are following the proper methodologies and eliminate the discrepancies in reporting of potency for dried flower and non-infused pre-rolls.
Overall Industry Effects
The cannabis industry as a whole should expect to see some changes as these regulations take effect and begin to become the standard for all labs moving forward. We expect to see the following trends:
- Decline in potency numbers across all labs for dried flower and non-infused pre-rolls
- 30% THC results to become more scarce and less commonplace
- Labs producing similar or same results for flower samples
- Fewer companies “Potency Shopping” around with different labs
- Transparent, consistent processes for flower testing
- DCC reviews of potency results with large deviations from the average
What This Means For Testing Labs
While the initial news may not be welcomed by all, the standardization of potency results is a huge positive for testing labs across the state. The purpose of a state licensed testing lab is to ensure impartial and reliable testing, which has not always been the case. Having a consistent, reliable testing method will allow for all testing labs to focus on improving their capabilities to meet these new standards. Operationally, there should be no significant changes as samples will still be collected, received, and processed in the same way.
What This Means For Cultivators & Distributors
Growers might be the most divided by this news as there are two main camps that have historically been at odds. The first group might welcome the standardization as there is now a single, consistent method of testing potency, which should eliminate any variation between labs. This consistency could allow growers to feel better about getting their testing results and not have any reservations about whether or not their flower or pre-rolls would have tested higher at another lab. Additionally, growers will be able to see these methodologies to better understand how their flower is being tested and work on ways they can improve their own grows.
On the other hand, growers that would not be pleased with this news might not agree with the methodology that is being standardized across the state. Testing labs had variations for a reason, because each one believed that there was a certain way to calculate the true potency of a product and not just how much THC could be detected. The question becomes, how did the DCC determine this new methodology and why is this new method going to be the standard for all labs moving forward. This new method could be called in to question if many growers start seeing a significant decrease in their potency results.
Overall, growers that produce good, high-quality flower will shine as their products should be unaffected by these changes. Allowing them to stand out among the competition and further establish their brand as one of the best in the business.
What This Means for Consumers
The average consumer should see this news as a positive for the legitimacy of the cannabis industry. Improving the consistency and quality of cannabis protects the consumer and creates a safer environment for the purchase of cannabis flower products. In theory, this will allow for more accurate labels in dispensaries and increase the trust within the industry that what you see is exactly what you are getting.
The standardization of potency testing stands to benefit all parties involved in the legal cannabis industry. Having consistent, repeatable results will add a transparency to lab testing that has been missing since legalization. This new found transparency will help labs improve their processes and consistency, help growers better understand the testing process and improve their grows, and allow consumers to have sufficient, reliable labels that they can trust. Ultimately, that is what the new regulations are about, continuing to build trust in the industry as it grows and becomes an integral part of our livelihoods and economy.