Five Steps to Prepare Cannabis Testing Laboratories for ISO 17025 Audits

February 3, 2020
Volume: 
3
Issue: 
1
Abstract / Synopsis: 

This tutorial article outlines some of the steps that cannabis testing laboratories can take to prepare ahead of a third-party safety audit. It discusses several practical measures that facilities can take to boost their chances of passing an audit, including advice on time management, essential employee training, and laboratory management systems that can ensure a smooth and seamless audit process.

Cannabis is prohibited at the federal level within the United States, though many states have chosen to legalize or decriminalize the drug at the state level. The result of this heavy regional legalization process has been a patchwork of regulations, in which each state can impose vastly different restrictions and freedoms on cannabis businesses.

Regulations in some states now require cannabis testing facilities to pass a third-party audit (1) as part of the licensing process. For example, some states require that laboratories achieve ISO 17025 accreditation—which includes an inspection from a qualified ISO 17025 auditor— to gain their testing license. In other regions, laboratories might choose to undergo an audit voluntarily.

This tutorial article outlines some of the steps that cannabis testing laboratories can take to prepare ahead of a third-party safety audit. It discusses several practical measures that facilities can take to boost their chances of passing an audit, including advice on time management, essential employee training, and laboratory management systems that can ensure a smooth and seamless audit process.

Why Are Third-Party Audits Important?

There are a number of different scenarios that can result in a cannabis testing laboratory needing to pass a third-party audit of their operations.

Some parts of the U.S. require testing laboratories to gain some form of official accreditation—normally the ISO/IEC 17025 standard for testing and calibration laboratories—as an essential part of acquiring their state testing license. In other regions, state regulations are enforced by the state sending out their own auditors to cannabis laboratories to perform inspections (2).

Depending on regional legislation, it may not be required for a cannabis testing laboratory to undergo any kind of third-party audit. Despite this, large numbers of cannabis testing laboratories are electing to get a third-party audit, or to seek accreditations that require the laboratory to pass an external audit. Having this accreditation, or having passed previous third-party audits, can be a way for laboratories to demonstrate their quality and rise above competitors who have not had their methods externally verified in such a manner.

References: 
  1. A. Beadle, Analytical Cannabis, (2019), https://www.analyticalcannabis.com/articles/maintaining-regulatory-compliance-in-the-cannabis-lab-311940.
  2. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “Inspection of marijuana testing facilities,” https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/inspection-retail-marijuana-testing-facilities.
  3. Clinical Lab Products, “Exploring Risk Management in the Lab,” http://www.clpmag.com/2016/05/exploring-risk-management-lab/.
  4. CloudLIMS, “Preparing for an ISO 17025 Audit: What to expect from a LIMS?”, https://cloudlims.com/blog/preparing-for-an-iso-17025-audit-what-to-expect-from-lims.html.
  5. Agilent, “Laboratory Audit Preparation,” https://www.agilent.com/cs/library/slidepresentation/Public/Laboratory%20Audit%20Preparation.pdf.
  6. https://cloudlims.com/industries/cannabis-marijuana-lims.html.

About the Author

Arun Apte is the CEO of CloudLIMS in Wilmington, Delaware. Direct correspondence to: [email protected]

How to Cite This Article

A. Apte, Cannabis Science and Technology 3(1), 52-55 (2020).