If you remember prohibition days, or are unlucky enough to live in states with no legal access to cannabis, then you know the uncertainties surrounding black market cannabis. You have no guarantee that the “Sour Diesel” you are buying is actually what your dealer claims it is. Worse yet, you have no idea if what you are smoking carries any toxins from pesticides.
Luckily for the citizens of Colorado, when cannabis was legalized in 2012, a provision in the legislation required all recreational cannabis to be laboratory tested. Fast forward two years later and the burgeoning business of cannabis testing is booming.
CannLabs is one of the forerunners in this industry. Currently operating in Colorado, CannLabs is dedicated to providing superior testing services to cannabis providers and has the honor of being the very first certified cannabis testing laboratory in the United States. Recently, Genifer Murray, founder and CEO of CannLabs, gave a presentation on women in the cannabis industry at the first annual WeedStock Conference.
We sat down with CannLabs’s Vice President of Marketing, Robert Farrell, to talk about CannLabs, cannabis testing, and the future of the industry.
William Sumner: How would you define the corporate culture at CannLabs?
Robert Farrell: We are a solutions based company providing leadership in the cannabis industry through testing to ensure quality of products in the market, product reformulation to maintain or improve quality of products in the market, consulting to enable state governments to better understand the market, consulting to enable cultivators, dispensaries and edible producers to have their products reach the market and/or obtain licensing and assist consumers in finding the products that meet their requirements.
Sumner: Do you have plans for expansion?
Farrell: Yes we do. We have just announced our expansion into Connecticut where we have secured two of the four licensed growers on three-year exclusive testing agreements. We’re very excited about Connecticut and looking forward to building that market out when it starts to have product available some time in August or September. As other states come on line we intend to expand into those territories by placing turn-key labs in the state which will facilitate the ancillary services described above.
Sumner: Tell me about what goes on in the day-to-day operation at CannLabs?
Farrell: Our current core business supports many growers, dispensaries and edible-makers by testing their products for potency, residual solvents and contaminants. The amount of testing is primarily driven by the need of the client. This can range from a basic potency test for an edible to a full suite of contamination tests which includes identifying aflatoxin and Heavy Metals.
Currently in Colorado, only recreational marijuana is mandated for testing. Therefore, most of our testing is for recreational products and we expect that to grow as legislation mandates this. We also work very closely with our clients to help them improve the quality of the products they sell or manufacture.
For example, when a client’s test results aren’t what they expected we advise on them on ways to address quality or improve production methods. As more states require testing, this will enhance our business expansions plans and provide future opportunities through our ancillary services.
Sumner: In your opinion, what roles does cannabis testing have in the marijuana industry?
Farrell: Testing is a fundamental part of ensuring public safety and helping the industry build credibility with the broader public and others who are skeptical about many aspects of the plant. It requires a standard of quality and assurance where we intend to be at the forefront and is the corner stone and launch pad for our business model to provide the consulting services mentioned above.
Sumner: Have you encountered any pushback from the federal government? Do you fear government raids?
Farrell: We don’t interact with the federal government, however our understanding is that they are supporting those states that are moving forward with marijuana legalization by not getting involved with their legislative process or making pronouncements that would prevent proper business operations. We are a transparent company and therefore are not fearful of the federal government because we have established policies and procedures in order to maintain a company with integrity and ethics.
Sumner: Many marijuana related businesses have encountered difficulties finding a bank that will accept their money. Have you encountered similar problems?
Farrell: Banking is clearly an area that is still being fully developed which allows business to thrive and ultimately reach legitimacy. We have encountered challenges in the past, and we’ve addressed them in a manner that allows us to operate our business and be able to serve our clients.
Sumner: Are there any kinds of industry standards in place, if any, to ensure proper testing? Do you think more should be done to quell a critic’s doubts?
Farrell: We can only speak to Colorado, but there are mandated standards for recreational marijuana. CannLabs follow those standards, and actually exceed them in many ways. This is demonstrated by us being the first state-certified laboratory in the country.
Sumner: What direction do you see the cannabis testing going and how is CannaLabs playing a part?
Farrell: As mandatory testing becomes a requirement in all states across the country with legalized marijuana regardless of whether it is recreational or medical, CannLabs intends to be the leader in providing the public with quality and assurance that the products it tests are safe.
In addition, as we execute our expansion plans, the consulting services that we will provide to the marketplace, as discussed above, will enable the cannabis market to grow and provide better quality products in the market and provide methodologies that will allow consumers to find products that meet their requirements.
CannLabs, Inc., is a solutions provider with intellectual property, proprietary cloud-based analytics and scientific methods to serve the cannabis industry. CannLabs provides laboratories with the necessary business intelligence technology and other solutions required to serve the cannabis industry. For testing or consultation services, you can contact them through their website at http://www.cannlabs.com/make-contact/.