Cannabis Lab Shopping: Causes, Effects, and Solutions from a GMP Webinar

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The latest webinar from the GMP Collective discussed the practice of lab shopping and the various causes, effects, and potential solutions.

On May 29, 2024, the GMP Collective, an organization comprised of industry professionals advancing the science and safety of cannabis, presented “Ensuring Integrity: Unveiling the Truth Behind Cannabis Testing Practices,” the 21st episode in their webinar series, When Things Go Wrong. Three guest speakers contributed their perspectives in this hour-long discussion: Yasha Kahn, co-founder and VP of Marketing and Technology at MCR Labs; Brian Radtke, operator of the decontamination company My Virgin Mary and former operator of Green Dragon Colorado; and Niki Barber, consultant and former Chief Scientific Officer at NV Cann Labs. This episode highlighted the causes and effects of “lab shopping” on cultivators, laboratories, and consumers, plus solutions and ways to address the issue. As explained by David Vaillencourt, CEO of the GMP Collective, “This is a multifaceted problem across the supply chain. We're here to just show all the ways that this has gone wrong throughout the industry. And the solution is not simple. There's multiple potential solutions, but there's unintended consequences of each one. We've got to dig ourselves out by educating ourselves to come around to the solution.”

The first question posed by moderator Bethany Moore, asked the speakers, “what are lab shopping practices and how did they become so prevalent in the industry?” Yasha Kahn presented slides illustrating the data and process of cultivators seeking laboratories that provide the highest potency results or passing results for total yeast and mold tests. From a grower’s perspective, Brian Radtke noted, “it's everything if you fail. It was easier to swallow failure when you're at a much higher value for cannabis. But now with cannabis being $600, $700, $800 a pound, if you fail a test or you get a low THC percentage, you're done.” He also noted how little the consumer is informed about decontaminated cannabis products.

Next, the presenters explained some of the methods used to manipulate data results, including dry labbing, testing into compliance, and manipulating the instruments and calibrating curves for higher potency results.


As someone who had transitioned from a legacy grower to the legal market, Radtke shared some personal experiences around the heavy impact on mental health and toll on personal ethics that growers face when encountering the struggles that lead to lab shopping. “Everyone's really understanding that the heydays are gone. What does it mean now to be a cannabis entrepreneur, and live your best life still and mentally deal with it? It's a big one for a lot of people.”

Niki Barber added, “I think we need to start looking at [cannabis] as an agricultural industry rather than a quick cash crop and that I think that will shift a lot of the corruption. Start putting in those same regulations and those same standards of testing for pesticides testing for microbials.”

In offering suggestions for steps to fix the issues of lab shopping and consumer fraud, Kahn suggested removing the incentives for dishonest actions, making data and results more public, and shutting down labs that manipulate data. Barber suggested increasing integrity of labs through standardization of testing methods once those testing methods are perfected.

For closing remarks, Radtke stated that consumers need to be given more information on their products, Kahn added that regulators need to better protect consumers, and Barber predicted the most change will occur with federal legalization of cannabis and also advocated for the separation of medical and recreational markets.

Over 30 questions had been submitted by attendees during registration, and a list of responses is anticipated to be emailed to registrants.

Find more information on GMP Collective webinars here or watch the full recording of this episode here.