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Industry Insights

Analytical Lab Testing Requirements for Cannabis Labs in California

The cannabis industry has experienced rapid growth and change in recent years. As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis use, strict regulations and testing requirements have been implemented to ensure the safety and consistency of these products.

To operate a Cannabis Testing Lab in California, applicants must obtain a type 8 license and ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. An interim testing license can be used while working on accreditation, and applicants must provide sample SOPs to be approved. Additional requirements include meeting local city and county regulations and passing a federal background check. Testing licensees cannot hold a license in another license category and must not have an ownership interest in another licensed facility. A license application fee of $1,000 applies.

To acquire a state license, applicants must first obtain local permission from a city or county in relation to its unincorporated lands. While not fast or easy, compared to the Retail license type, obtaining local permission for a Cannabis Testing Lab is relatively smooth, with some cities and counties having no caps on cannabis Testing labs and a few allowing Testing with light zoning restrictions even if they have a complete prohibition on all other cannabis business types.

Application Link: https://bcc.ca.gov/clear/testing_lab_application.pdf

Testing laboratories make sure cannabis goods are safe for consumption. The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) requires all batches of cannabis goods to be tested before they can be sold. Testing labs test cannabis goods to make sure they’re:

  • Free of contaminants
  • Labeled with accurate amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes


Required testing

Testing labs test cannabis goods for:

  • Cannabinoids and terpenes
  • Residual solvents and processing chemicals
  • Residual pesticides
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbial impurities
  • Mycotoxins
  • Moisture content and water activity
  • Foreign material


Reporting test results

Testing labs report results on a Certificate of Analysis (COA). The COA says whether the batch passes or fails testing for each substance. Labs can only issue COAs and results after they finish all tests. Labs cannot change them after they’re issued without permission from DCC.


Sending results to DCC

Within one day of finishing a batch’s testing, the testing lab must:


Cannabis goods that fail testing

Batches of cannabis goods that fail testing can only be:

  • Destroyed by the distributor
  • Remediated by a manufacturer

Remediation removes contaminants from a product. Only manufacturers can remediate a product. DCC must approve your remediation plan in advance. After remediation, you must retest cannabis goods, which ensures the contaminant was removed. If the goods pass testing, they can be sold.


How to submit a remediation plan

To request permission to remediate cannabis goods, email remediation@cannabis.ca.gov


Reliability of test results

Testing laboratories must:

  • Become ISO accredited
  • Use standard operating procedures
  • Develop a laboratory quality assurance program
  • Participate in a proficiency testing program


ISO accreditation

Cannabis testing labs in California must maintain ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. ISO accreditation is a measure of quality used by universities and research centers worldwide. This standard, established by experts, requires labs to show the following:

  • Technical competency
  • Reliability of test results

Cannabis Testing Lab in California is responsible for:

  • Dispatching staff to gather samples from batches at a Distribution Licensee’s premises while under surveillance and according to strict SOPs.
  • Log, securely transport, and store all samples before, during, and after testing.
  • Hire and train staff to perform comprehensive tests on cannabis and cannabis products using equipment that can easily cost over $1M, including evaluations of packaging and labels.
  • File a Certificate of Analysis with the state and deliver these results to the Distributors.
  • Oversee remediation options for failed batches, if allowed.
  • Technical competency
  • Reliability of test results


Lighthouse Lab Services: Your Partner for State-of-the-Art Analytical Labs in California

Lighthouse Lab Services (LLS) is the go-to provider for laboratory technologies and services for mature and emerging markets. LLS offers a complete range of solutions needed to help clients navigate the complex regulatory environment and meet state regulations for cannabis production, ensuring compliance and resulting in safe products for medicinal and recreational consumption.

Lighthouse’s services include high-performance mass spectrometry, toxicology, and chemistry measurement systems required for cannabis testing, as well as providing guidance in setting up analytical labs that meet regulatory requirements set by the State of California. Our years of experience and ISO-certified protocols ensure accurate results and reliable testing to industry standards. Whether you’re an individual or a large-scale cannabis distributor, Lighthouse is the best solution for testing cannabis products that meet regulatory compliance standards in California.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.


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