1) It’s the Law: Let’s face it. The main reason most producers get their product tested is because they have to. In almost every state that has a medical or social cannabis law, some sort of testing is required, at the very least potency testing for labeling purposes. In these states, untested product can’t be sold in dispensaries. In states where it’s not required, it soon will be, so you might as well establish a relationship with a good lab sooner rather than later.
2) Consumers are Demanding Tested Product: this is the Information Age. Consumers like to ‘feel informed’. The consumers who are visiting dispensaries are the same people who are eating organic produce and buying ‘BPA free’ baby products. The notion of consumer safety has been drilled into the American mind for over a decade now, and that mentality will naturally cross over into consumer sentiment regarding the cannabis products they buy. Consumers will be much more likely to purchase a product that has a label with more information on it rather than less. For example, if there are two cannabis products on a shelf, both with a labeled potency of 18% THC, I’ll bet you twenty bucks most people will buy the one that also has pesticide results on the label. But going back to #1, that label has to be accurate.
3) It’s the right thing to do. In an industry where people have risked absolutely everything to start a business and where obscene amounts of money seem to be there for the taking, it’s hard to remember a little thing called morality. As a chemist, I’m going to be honest with you: in general, cannabis is pretty damn safe. We all know that cannabinoids are non-toxic, and contrary to the claims of certain people (ahem…Gennifer Murray) pesticides are NOT poison. The produce we buy every day is covered with pesticides, and without pesticides, there wouldn’t be enough food around to feed the billions of people populating the face of our lovely planet. That being said, too much of certain pesticides could be poison, especially when they’re concentrated in an extract that is then being used to dose a small child with cancer. Honestly, I think microbiological contamination is much more likely to be a threat to little Johnny with epilepsy or to Grandma with arthritis. Yes, I know you could make a ton of money from your moldy batch of weed, but do you really want to feed that weed to these folks (because remember, little Johnny and Grandma aren’t going to be sitting around smoking fat blunts – they’ll be using tinctures, pills, or edibles)? If you’re a human being, then your answer should be a definitive ‘no’.
4) It’s good for business: like I said in #3, consumers are demanding safe product. Truly safe product. Don’t be like those huge faceless conglomerates who slap words like ‘natural’ or ‘made with whole grain’ on hormone-laden beef or diabetes-inducing breakfast cereal. This community is better than that. In fact, this community has to be better than that. Not only is the cannabis industry under more public scrutiny than the food industry at large, it would be disastrous to this industry if little Johnny died from e.coli, salmonella, mycotoxin, or heavy metals poisoning from his cannabis product. The DEA isn’t waiting to swoop in on McDonald’s for mislabeling their products as ‘healthy’, and I’m sure your legal team can’t hold a flame to the legal team at General Mills. Also, remember that this industry is giving hope to a lot of desperate parents and ill adults. McDonald’s doesn’t do that – that’s not their business model, so they can get away with ‘healthy but not really’. Also, this is still a relatively small community, so if you get branded as a producer of crappy product because your stuff gets recalled, it’s going to be hard to move your crappy product.
5) You need to cover your ass: America is a damn litigious society. People sue all the time over the most inane things, and there has already been a wrongful-death lawsuit (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wrongful-death-lawsuit-filed-maker-distributor-edible-marijuana/story?id=39549209), as well as a chemical safety lawsuit (http://www.cannalawblog.com/the-pot-safety-lawsuits-have-landed/). First off, if you’re knowingly using stuff on your product that could make people sick (like Eagle 20), then you deserve every consequence you get. However, if you’re trying to do the right thing and you get your product tested and the lab says it’s clean but later – BAM – it turns out one of your employees in one of your grow rooms used Eagle 20 and someone found it…at least you can show that you had the product tested and it’s the lab’s fault for not finding it. Consumers know how much money the producers and dispensaries are raking in, and I hate to say it, but some of them want a piece of the pie.
Author: Amanda Rigdon, CTO Emerald Scientific