Legalization efforts and the future of U.S. cannabis testing industry

The U.S. cannabis testing industry is undergoing a remarkable transformation with the growing legalization of the substance for medicinal as well as recreational purposes. Over the past decade, the legal status of cannabis, or marijuana, throughout the country has changed drastically.

The U.S. House of Representatives had voted in favor of decriminalizing cannabis, which under the Controlled Substance Act at the federal level is classified as a Schedule I drug with no medicinal value alongside other drugs like heroin and cocaine. However, 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the substance for medicinal use, whereas 11 states and Washington D.C. have legalized it for recreational purposes.

With ongoing developments in the field of medical marijuana, the country has witnessed a notable rise marijuana cultivation. These factors along with the growing number of testing laboratories are fueling the U.S. cannabis testing market size, which is estimated to hit over US$4.18 billion by 2027.

Due to different state laws pertaining to the medical and recreational application of cannabis, it is crucial for regulatory departments to have access to reliable lab testing facilities in order to identify the potency of different components of the substance accurately.

In November 2019, Leafly, one of the world’s largest cannabis suppliers, announced the new Leafly Certified Labs Program. Under the program, a network of marijuana testing labs will be independently assessed by the company for quality and accuracy. Designed to tackle the inconsistency in marijuana testing, the Leafly Certified Labs Program aims to provide customers with accurate and trustworthy lab results.

The exponential increase in the use of cannabis infused products created massive confusion regarding false readings in test results. Many of these products, including oils, tinctures, food, and lotions create analytical challenges, interfering with the removal of cannabinoids such as THC. As a result, the need for reliable and accurate cannabis testing solutions is greater than ever.

In July 2019, Austin, Texas-based Ionization Labs had developed a new cannabis testing system for the law enforcement organizations struggling to differentiate between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.

The system allows anyone to test the substance for the amount of THC and CBD present. Ionization Labs believes that anyone could be trained to use the system with a little guidance, with the entire testing process taking only 20 minutes. This could be an effective solution for law enforcement agencies in Texas, where crime labs currently equipped to do that.

Ionization Labs also confirmed that testing accuracy hasn’t been compromised as HPLC, the gold standard for cannabis potency testing, has been used.

Recently in June 2020, CW Analytical Laboratories had announced plans to improve science-based cannabis testing to improve the accuracy and efficacy of cannabis infused products for medical and recreational purposes.

The cannabis testing industry is set to witness numerous important developments and breakthroughs over the next few years. However, despite robust progress on all fronts, several hurdles still need to be overcome in order to unlock the full potential of marijuana testing.

These include challenges such as excessive cost of setting up a testing facility and lack of uniform testing standards in many parts of the country. CW Analytical Laboratories, Steep Hill, Inc., SC Labs, Inc., Iron Laboratories, PSI Labs, EVIO, Inc., and Pure Analytical LLC are among the prominent names in the industry.