A Laboratory Stuck in the “Weeds”: a True Cannabis Compliance Story

A Laboratory Stuck in the “Weeds”: a True Cannabis Compliance Story

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RJ Lee Group supports a rapidly emerging industry by providing cannabis compliance consulting services to laboratories and state agencies. Our experts determine how to successfully apply best standardized laboratory practices to a market that is still establishing its norms. RJLG’s years of experience in laboratory operations and quality management provide the proper skill sets for ensuring the success of cannabis testing labs as well as the state program that ultimately is responsible for consumer safety.

We recently performed an audit of a testing laboratory that conducts quality control (QC) testing for cannabis products. Growers and processers cannot release product directly into the market without an independent laboratory testing it to assure the safety and quality of the product. The information reviewed during the audit showed consistent inaccuracies of original raw data, as well as the information the marijuana lab reported to the client. Suspension of certification for that lab was a direct result of the RJLG audit.

An integral component of any laboratory audit is the review of the large amount of documentation any laboratory is required to produce, from standard operating procedures to final reports. In this instance, the laboratory was not able to produce approximately half of the requested documentation listed.  This finding alone is enough to suspend laboratories certifications/accreditations under many different programs. As the saying goes, “If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen!” From the audit team’s perspective, the inability of the cannabis testing lab to produce the documents is equivalent failing to record the information, and left our auditors questioning if the information was even gathered at all. Did they take the money and actually make a report to the customer? In the worst case scenario, a lab could process more samples, yet avoid spending the time and labor costs to analyze them!

Another discovered issue was that the laboratory did not have a qualified Scientific Director on staff to review test results for a period of time which is a code requirement. However, they somehow managed to produce results for their clients during this same period. Our audit team was able to prove that results were being released to customers during this timeframe by reviewing bench sheets and comparing them to the final reporting dates.

The audit team also proved the laboratory used unacceptable lab practices by reviewing purchase orders and then comparing them to the number of tests completed. The laboratory did not purchase enough supplies to complete the number of tests that were reported.

As a result of the audit the laboratory certification was suspended. The laboratory was not able to operate until they fixed all deficiencies and went through the full certification process from beginning to end.

Auditing for cannabis compliance is a critical component to ensuring a quality product for medical and recreational consumers. For information on cannabis lab auditing services, please click below.

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