state run cannabis testing labs
state run cannabis testing labs

Should States Run Cannabis Testing Labs to Avoid THC Lab Shopping and Other Marijuana Testing Lab Problems?

Michigan may be the first state to take over weed testing to make sure it is done ethically and safely.

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Monday Mar 11, 2024

state run cannabis testing labs

Michigan is considering establishing a specialized lab dedicated to testing marijuana. The primary goal is to ensure the accuracy of information provided by existing testing labs.


Termed a " reference lab," its responsibilities would include scrutinizing results from other labs, investigating the potential entry of illegal marijuana into the legal market, and assisting in product recalls if necessary.


Brian Hanna, the director, estimates the construction and equipping of the lab would cost around $2.8 million, with an additional $1.6 million allocated for ongoing staffing.

Why Michigan Wants a Marijuana Testing Lab

First, the lab would double-check the accuracy of results obtained from other testing facilities. This would ensure that the information provided regarding the strength and composition of marijuana is reliable.


Additionally, the cannabis lab would play a crucial role in investigating the presence of illegal marijuana within the legal market, addressing concerns related to the integrity of the marijuana supply chain.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proposed allocating $4.4 million for this lab in her budget, which would become effective October 1 if approved. While Brian Hanna hopes to initiate the project as soon as possible, a specific timeline for implementation has yet to be provided.

California and Colorado have reference labs with similar functions, and Michigan aims to be a leader in this area.


Hanna emphasizes the need for the lab to operate independently, free from external influences, to ensure fairness and a foundation in scientific principles. The proposal arises amid declining trust in the current system for testing marijuana safety.

Why People Want This Lab

One of the primary concerns prompting the establishment of the lab is the potential for false results. There is apprehension that some labs may exaggerate marijuana's potency to increase its perceived value.


 Additionally, worries persist regarding the accuracy of safety tests designed to identify harmful contaminants in marijuana products. A significant recall in November 2021 by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) highlighted the unreliability of results from one of the state's largest testing labs.


Lev Spivak-Birndorf, founder and chief science officer for Ann Arbor-based PSI Labs, acknowledges that a state-run lab may not be a cure-all but suggests that an unbiased, state-controlled lab could substantially improve the resolution of disputes over the accuracy of testing results.


Currently, labs responsible for testing marijuana are hired by the growers and manufacturers. If the results are unfavorable, these businesses may seek out different labs. The proposed state-run lab aims to ensure the proficiency of all testing labs through regular and surprise tests without prior notice.


Governor Whitmer's budget also earmarks $33.8 million for the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, tasked with overseeing Michigan's hemp and marijuana industries. The budget anticipates generating nearly $240 million from recreational marijuana excise taxes, with portions allocated to participating counties, local municipalities, the School Aid fund, and road funds.


In addition to the proposal for a state-operated marijuana testing lab in Michigan, legislators are currently deliberating a bill to grant the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) more explicit authority. The CRA considers this legislative move essential to bolster its oversight capabilities over cannabis companies operating within the state.


However, the actualization of the laboratory project faces a certain degree of uncertainty, hinging on the bill's ability to secure three-fourths of support from both the state Senate and House of Representatives. This is particularly crucial as the proposed amendments seek to modify the 2018 voter-approved measure that initially legalized recreational marijuana in Michigan.


Legislative Challenges and Subsequent Approval

As the bill's fate hangs in the balance, awaiting a vote by the House Regulatory Reform Committee, the CRA contends that the lab's establishment is pivotal for creating objective standards within licensed safety compliance facilities. Currently, no unbiased third-party testing lab exists in Michigan, necessitating an independent reference lab.


According to David Harns, a spokesperson for the CRA, the proposed reference lab will play a crucial role in industry standardization. It aims to optimize and verify standard testing methods, thereby enhancing the overall oversight of the cannabis industry through improved audit and investigative capabilities.


While the CRA has taken preliminary steps in procuring some lab equipment, the actual construction of the facility has yet to commence. Suppose the legislative and regulatory processes align favorably. In that case, the proposed lab will be built in Lansing, Michigan's state capital, where the CRA is headquartered.


A dedicated team of five staff members will manage the operational aspect, working collaboratively to ensure the lab's efficacy and adherence to established standards.

Industry Dynamics and Divergent Perspectives

Within the Michigan cannabis industry, the proposal for a state-run testing lab has ignited a polarized debate. Greg Michaud, the CEO of Viridis, a private testing lab, emerges as a vocal opponent of the state-operated lab concept.


Michaud questions the state's ability to execute its duties in a "fair, impartial, and transparent manner." This skepticism is heightened by Viridis'Viridis' involvement in litigation against the CRA, stemming from a substantial product recall in 2021.


In stark contrast, the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, representing a robust network of 400 marijuana companies, stands firmly in support of the state-run lab initiative. Members of this trade group are "adamant" that establishing such a lab would significantly improve enforcement measures and contribute to maintaining a level playing field within the industry.


Their endorsement emphasizes the belief that a state-controlled facility would serve as an unbiased and authoritative entity, ensuring the reliability and accuracy of testing procedures.


Potential Implications and the Road Ahead

As Michigan navigates this complex terrain of legislative, regulatory, and industry dynamics, the proposed state-operated marijuana testing lab holds the potential to reshape the cannabis landscape within the state.


If the bill successfully overcomes legislative hurdles and gains widespread support, establishing the reference lab could signify a milestone. It will ensure the integrity and transparency of safety compliance testing in the burgeoning cannabis industry.


In the meantime, the CRA's proactive steps in acquiring the necessary equipment indicate a commitment to the vision of an independent and standardized testing facility. The choice of Lansing as the lab's location underscores the agency's commitment to centralizing its operations, aligning the lab with the CRA's headquarters for efficient coordination.


While uncertainties persist, the evolving narrative around the proposed lab showcases the intricacies and divergent perspectives within the Michigan cannabis industry. The ongoing discourse will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of marijuana regulation and testing practices in the state, influencing the standards and protocols that govern the burgeoning cannabis sector in Michigan.


As stakeholders continue to express their viewpoints, the eventual outcome will carry implications for Michigan and potentially set precedents for other states grappling with similar challenges in the ever-evolving landscape of legalized marijuana.





What did you think?

ganja leaf left  Keep reading... click here  ganja leaft right

Please log-in or register to post a comment.

Leave a Comment: