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California Calls for Standardized Cannabis Testing by 2023

California will require standardized cannabis testing by January 1, 2023 to minimize inconsistencies between the state’s forty-one marijuana labs and to ensure market quality, pursuant to Senate Bill 544. California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) will select standards and quality requirements for state-certified labs. “This will bring additional consistency and accountability among licensed cannabis testing laboratories,” DCC spokeswoman Christina Dempsey said.

The Bill, signed in October 2021 by Governor Gavin Newsom, requires the DCC to establish  testing methods, operating procedures, criteria to determine which batches will be tested, and quality requirements. In order to sell products, cannabis retailers must have their products tested by a licensed testing lab, receive a certificate of analysis, and report the results. 

Senate Bill 544 is significant because it took the contaminants list out of legislation, deferring to the DCC to control and modify the list as necessary. “This is going to give the DCC the ability to modify the contaminants list and action levels without the need for legislative approval.” said Art Hentschel, general manager at pH-PSI Labs, in an interview with Analytical Cannabis.

Advocates of the Bill say it will increase consumer confidence, and maintain health and safety in the cannabis market. Further, advocates say the Bill will reduce “lab shopping” a practice which industry officials allege certain companies may partake in, referring to the practice of retaining labs that report desired results. 

Bill opponents say further regulations will drive up costs, and point to lab errors and false positives as reasons to oppose this legislation. 

The DCC has assigned two state-run labs to establish procedures that will serve as standards for all California labs. “DCC anticipates leveraging these two laboratories to enhance accountability,” Dempsey said, “by verifying laboratory results and through initiatives such as challenge tests.”

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