Quality Control in Cannabis Laboratories: A Cannabis Science Conference West Preview with Dr. Tony Francis

Columns | <b>Cannabis Voices</b>

Cannabis Science Conference West, taking place May 18-20 in Long Beach, California, is quickly approaching. The two-day agenda is packed with exciting speakers from around the country. In this preview, we hear from Dr. Tony Francis, Principal, SAW Environmental. Dr. Francis is also an IAS instructor and assessor and a fully qualified National Environmental Laboratories Accreditation Conference (NELAC) assessor in organic and inorganic chemistry, microbiology, cryptosporidium, radiochemistry, solids, aqueous, tissue, and air. Here he shares some insights into his talk, “Importance of Quality Control in Cannabis Laboratories,” scheduled for Friday, May 20 from 9:30 – 10:00 am. We hope to see you there!

What first led you to get involved in the cannabis industry?

Dr. Tony Francis: My background is in environmental laboratory quality assurance. When the cannabis industry started to emerge, I found cannabis laboratories were often lacking the rigor of quality control and the documentation to support it. Emerging industries are always exciting.

Your presentation for the Cannabis Science Conference West is called “Importance of Quality Control in Cannabis Laboratories.” What inspired you to present on this topic? What are you most excited to share?

Dr. Francis: Quality control is important no matter the matrix—air, water, or cannabis. I have found that laboratory personnel are so often in the weeds, pun intended, they lose sight of the overarching purpose of analyzing quality control samples. I am excited to share a basic understanding of quality control as it pertains to cannabis analyses. I believe better quality data is the result.

Who will benefit most from your presentation and why?

Dr. Francis: Laboratory management, supervisors, and analysts can benefit from my presentation. No matter how experienced one is, it is always nice to get back to basics every so often.

What kind of important information do you hope attendees will gain from your presentation that they wouldn’t know otherwise?

Dr. Francis: I would hope attendees will gain a deeper understanding pertaining to the “why” of running quality control samples. Each type provides different information concerning sample preparation, instrument conditions, and contamination.

Do you face any unique challenges with your work in quality control and consulting in the cannabis industry?

Dr. Francis: Emerging industries will always have those in a rush to the finish line. Sometimes corners are cut for the sake of speed. There has been a drastic improvement over the years but there remain some laboratories in need of a little guidance and help.

What do you hope to see change in the future with analysts’ approaches to quality control in cannabis laboratories?

Dr. Francis: I hope to see continual improvement in cannabis laboratories. The data should be well-defined and of known and documented quality. Analysts working in cannabis laboratories should continue to build their skill sets and general knowledge of the chemistry behind the tests.

What are you most excited to learn at Cannabis Science Conference West?

Dr. Francis: I’m excited to learn about new technologies and methods for testing cannabis products. The science is evolving rapidly with advanced ways of performing separations and analyte detection.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Dr. Francis: Thank you for this opportunity. I’m excited to present and attend.