The cannabis industry has made a lot of progress despite the misconceptions that still plague the market. As we continue the fight against these stigmas, there is one crucial element the industry will need to preserve its credibility: integrity.
Data is crucial to the cannabis industry’s growth. Product development, cultivation practices, and sales tactics are all driven by data. If the data cannot be relied upon, it stifles innovation and progress. False information and dishonest dealings will have a detrimental impact on cannabis quality and new cultivation methods, ultimately dragging down the entire sector.
The Challenges We Face Today
While progress has been made toward building the industry's integrity and fostering a deeper understanding of cannabis, the federal government's prohibition of cannabis has led to tension surrounding state regulation and legalization.
As is the case in any sector, the cannabis market is flooded with valuable data, but this information gets convoluted when placed in the wrong hands. Moreover, not all parties within the field take the same precautions to safeguard customer information and comply with regulatory requirements.
For example, in July of this year, a RICO lawsuit was brought against Steep Hill Arkansas, alleging that it had overstated THC figures. This lack of data integrity potentially endangers the community, empowers fraudulent players, and diminishes the credibility of the industry as a whole.
A lack of competent leadership in regulatory monitoring can lead to conflicts of interest, misuse of power, and bribery of regulators to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing. The general public bears the brunt of the damage caused by such activities, which undermine the entire sector.
The cannabis industry's credo should be data integrity and responsible behavior. It's a principle of ethics that goes above and beyond the likelihood of human error, with the goal of preventing consumers from acquiring a negative connotation about a substance that was originally intended to alleviate their suffering.
What Can Cannabis Testing Labs Do To Help?
The legal cannabis industry stands and falls on the quality and accuracy of its products. The success of these standards rests on the concerted efforts of multiple experts working together to promote safety, while also being sensitive to the requirements and concerns of the sector’s regulatory landscape.
An international requirement for calibration and testing laboratories is ISO 17025 accreditation. It gives laboratories the chance to prove they are capable of generating dependable results and earning the trust of their clients.
While there is no such thing as a flawless regulatory framework, the accreditation allows labs to create a dynamic that prioritizes the well-being of the public and the integrity of its expanding market.
Here are some ways cannabis testing labs can uphold proper data integrity practices:
1. Maintain data integrity in all actions
In the cannabis industry, making decisions based on data helps make sure that the final products are of excellent quality with accurate data. Cannabis labs should keep the data they receive, store, process, and send out about cannabis testing accurate by any means necessary. Labs can uphold data integrity by putting internal systems in place that support honesty.
2. Minimize data variability
With vast amounts of data generated, cannabis testing labs struggle to avoid data fluctuation when evaluating the same samples. Human errors may result in altered data, which causes data variability. Standardization of testing techniques, effective data management systems, and adherence to good laboratory practices can significantly reduce data variability.
3. Identify operational issues
Laboratories rely on automation to standardize their lab procedures. Automation assists in eliminating manual errors and inconsistencies in data, increasing testing throughput, and decreasing turnaround time. Audit trails capture all data changes, including who made them and when, which identifies process abnormalities and initiates necessary corrective measures.
What Can You Do To Help?
Everyone—from educators to parents to law enforcement officers—should know the risks and benefits of cannabis so that they may make educated decisions.
The purpose of legalizing cannabis is to preserve consumer health and safety. To accomplish this, we must normalize the use of safe cannabis.
The cannabis market is rapidly expanding, making it complicated to gather trustworthy data, but don't let that deter you. The trick is to know what questions to ask to find reliable information.
These are essential questions to consider before buying a cannabis product:
- Is this a high-quality cannabis product from a trustworthy, reputable source?
- Is there a Certificate of Analysis (COA) provided?
- What is the shelf-life of this product?
- Is this product free of pesticides and other harmful substances?
With more consumers like you evaluating products and scrutinizing brands, the more pressure there is on the dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers, and testing labs to uphold data integrity.
With the cannabis business continuing to expand and evolve, the lack of data integrity can have a huge impact on consumers, distributors, producers, and many other stakeholders.
Although there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence on cannabis, the business must strive toward standardization in order to attain data integrity and reliability. We hope you will join us in advocating for policies that promote honesty, transparency, and data integrity within the industry.