Elevating the Green: The Crucial Role of Quality Control and Testing in the Cannabis Industry

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Blogs | <b>Stuck on Compliance</b>

The cannabis industry has experienced a paradigm shift over the past few years, with legalization sweeping across various states. As the market expands, so does the need for stringent quality control and testing measures to ensure the safety and efficacy of cannabis products. In this blog, we delve into the critical importance of quality control in the cannabis industry, focusing on testing requirements for potency, contaminants, and other quality measures. Additionally, we explore the dynamic landscape of testing standards, highlighting any recent updates or changes that businesses and consumers should be aware of.

The Imperative of Quality Control

Quality control is the linchpin of a thriving cannabis industry. As cannabis gains broader acceptance for both medicinal and recreational use, consumers rightfully demand products that meet high safety and efficacy standards. Making sure your products are consistent from one batch to another is incredibly determinative of consumer loyalty and overall brand success. Quality control encompasses a series of processes and procedures implemented at various stages of the cannabis supply chain to guarantee product integrity. For most companies in the industry, current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) certification is the best standard to follow. Whether you want to follow Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 111 (supplements), CFR 117 (food/food ingredients), or CFR 211 (pharmaceutical) requirements is up to you at this point, since there are no GMP guidelines or requirements on a federal level. Most of our clients decide this based on the kind of product they are making and what we suggest at this time. But following and preparing for federal legalization, along with protecting your company through risk mitigation, is the best course of action to prepare your company for long term success.

Potency Testing: The Key to Consistency

One of the fundamental aspects of quality control is potency testing. This crucial step ensures that cannabis products consistently deliver the intended levels of cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Proper potency testing not only satisfies regulatory requirements but also provides consumers with accurate information for informed decision-making. As regulatory frameworks evolve, businesses must stay abreast of any changes in potency testing standards to maintain compliance. When it comes to flower potency in the industry, we encounter some issues. Because testing laboratories are not standardized, potency inflation can be an issue (1). That being said, potency testing is required to ensure consumers will be able to manage the effects of any product they decide to consume. There is not a state that doesn’t require this at this point, for obvious reasons.

Contaminant Testing: Safeguarding Health

Contaminants pose a significant threat to consumer safety, which makes thorough contaminant testing a cornerstone of quality control. This includes screening for pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, and other harmful substances that may compromise the safety of cannabis products. Continuous advancements in testing technology contribute to the industry's ability to detect contaminants at lower concentrations, ensuring a higher level of product safety. In many states the regulations regarding contaminate testing are updated based on risks found throughout the growth of the industry. New products and processes pose different risks, and it has been challenging for regulators to keep up with this innovative and fast-moving industry. Always make sure your company is keeping up to date with changes in contaminate testing requirements in the state you are in.

Microbial Testing: Guarding Against Infections

Microbial testing is vital in preventing the distribution of cannabis products contaminated with harmful bacteria or fungi. This aspect of quality control protects consumers, particularly those with compromised immune systems, from potential infections. As the industry matures, testing standards for microbial contaminants are subject to refinement, emphasizing the need for businesses to stay informed and compliant. In many states, new changes have been made regarding aspergillus testing (2). This is another part of the industry that is constantly changing. Always pay attention to your current state regulations so that you aren’t caught off guard when changes are made.

Updates and Changes in Testing Standards

As stated many times in this blog series, the cannabis industry is dynamic, responding to both scientific advancements and regulatory developments. Stakeholders in the industry must remain vigilant about changes in testing standards to adapt their practices accordingly.

Emerging Cannabinoids: Expanding the Scope of Testing


Beyond THC and CBD, the cannabis plant contains myriad cannabinoids with potential therapeutic effects. Recent updates in testing standards reflect a growing interest in expanding the scope of cannabinoid analysis. This includes assessing minor cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), providing consumers with a more comprehensive understanding of product composition. There are also a number of hemp-derived cannabinoids that are joining the market, such as delta 8 THC (D8), delta 10 THC (D10), and hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) (3). The processes and chemicals to make these cannabinoids are different than previously regulated cannabinoids, therefore adding to the list of things regulators and law makers need to pay attention to when deciding how testing standards should be written. Cannabis is a complicated plant and this makes it a complicated thing to regulate.

Terpene Profiling: Aromatics and Beyond

Terpenes, the aromatic compounds in cannabis, play a crucial role in the plant's effects, taste, smell, and therapeutic properties. In some states testing standards have evolved to incorporate terpene profiling, allowing consumers to choose products based on their desired flavor profiles and potential synergies between cannabinoids and terpenes. This is not the case in all states. In many, terpene testing is a company preference, but more and more companies are seeing the benefit of informing consumers of the terpene profile of their products. This kind of testing helps consumers understand their own preferences and gives another way for consumers to choose their products other than just knowing the potency of them.

Standardization Across Jurisdictions: Toward Consistency

The lack of standardized testing protocols across different jurisdictions has been a challenge for the cannabis industry. However, there is a growing movement toward establishing uniform testing standards to enhance consistency and facilitate cross-border trade. Businesses operating in multiple regions must navigate these evolving standards to ensure compliance and product quality. Standardization groups like ASTM International are working on standardization standards across the entire industry already (4). Eventually federal regulation of the cannabis industry will happen and many times the federal government adopts ASTM standards as their own. If this is the case, then this gives industry leaders an opportunity to be prepared before they are regulated at a federal level. Becoming compliant with already existing cGMPs, becoming cGMP certified by an accredited third party, or becoming compliant with ASTM standards is the best way to prepare yourself for the future of the industry.

Quality control and testing are non-negotiable elements in the cannabis industry's pursuit of legitimacy and consumer trust. Rigorous testing for potency, contaminants, and other quality measures not only ensures regulatory compliance but also safeguards public health. As testing standards continue to evolve, businesses must stay informed and invest in third parties to maintain a competitive edge. By prioritizing quality control, the cannabis industry can continue to thrive, providing consumers with safe, reliable, and effective products in this rapidly changing landscape.


  1. Schaneman, B., How the marijuana industry can shift its focus away from THC potency, MJBiz Daily, Aug 4 2022,
  2. Cornelius, H., Kim stuck of allay consulting discusses preventing aspergillus in cannabis, Greenway Magazine, Oct 25, 2023,
  3. Cazentre, D., What is Delta 8 THC? it’s not marijuana, but it is creating a buzz in New York State,, Sept 25, 2023,
  4. ASTM International, Committee D37 on cannabis, (accessed Nov 27, 2023).

About the Author

Kim Stuck is the CEO and founder of Allay Consulting. Direct correspondence to: