Know your Lab – Know your Company
By Noel Palmer, Ph.D. Chief Scientist, Evolab & CBx Sciences
When I started working in the cannabis industry, I was involved in quality control, testing plants, concentrates and products for potency and contamination. Back then, there was a motto that was often echoed – which was “know your lab”. This was because not all testing laboratories were created equal, were not opened and operated with the same rigor – and the ability of states to audit laboratories had not yet caught up to the industry. Thus (within the cannabis industry) it was encouraged to ask questions to the testing laboratories to understand their sampling, testing and reporting details. By definition, third party quality control laboratories should be transparent with all their inner workings – so questions are typically helpful for everyone involved. Nowadays, the ability of states to audit the third party testing laboratories has increased dramatically and created a more equal playing field for testing standards.
In all states where cannabis has been recreationally legalized and most states where cannabis has been medically legalized, third party testing for potency and contamination has been mandated in state regulations. As one might imagine, the volume of cannabis and cannabis products being tested at these third party testing labs is significant – and the cost is notable to the companies submitting test samples to the quality control laboratories. There is also a time delay for these testing laboratories to return results, sometimes as fast as 12-24 hours, but typically a 3-7 day turnaround is expected for a full quality control screen for potency and contamination.
As a result, at Evolab – we have built an in-house laboratory designed for internal process and quality control. Bringing a laboratory in-house allows us to boost up our testing volume by minimizing costs (increased volume) – and customize our analytical needs, allowing us to look for more cannabinoids or low level terpenes – for example. Moreover – we have hired qualified chemists to run the laboratory – and there is a daily interaction between the internal laboratory and our extraction, refinement and production teams allowing for continuous process improvement.
Evolab utilizes a HPLC – DAD (High Performance Liquid Chromatograph – Diode Array Detector) for standard potency analysis, and we are able to perform analytics on the major cannabinoids (THCA, CBDA, THC, CBD, CBN) and lower level cannabinoids (CBGA, CBG, CBC, THCV, CBDV). The industry standard for measuring potency is using this same type of machine. By utilizing our internal laboratory – we are able to maximize process efficiencies and ensure batch-to-batch consistency with a more appropriate statistically relevant sampling protocol (cheaper and faster testing). Most companies in the cannabis industry comply with only the state mandated minimum for testing as the cost and time can be burdensome even at this level.
Evolab recently implemented the analytics from a GC-MS into our process control – to monitor the data for our favorite class of compounds – terpenes. As many of you know, Evolab’s specialty is terpenes (i.e. Alchemy and FreshTerps) – and having an analytical lab testing for terpenes is essential to our platform. We produce a lot of cannabis derived terpenes in different batches and we are now working on a method to empower you, the consumer, to understand the exact terpene content of your favorite Evolab product. (It should be noted that in Colorado, terpene testing for cannabis products is not mandated – but many of the labs do offer these services.)
Just as with cannabinoids – using our laboratory to monitor the terpene content of our products throughout our extraction and processing is critical to ensure that we are producing a consistent and high quality product for you.
When you purchase an Evolab product, you can be certain that it has not only been tested under the state mandated minimums at a third party lab for potency and contamination, but it has also been rigorously assayed from beginning to end in our process control laboratory, ensuring you receive the highest quality product.