How Cannabis Testing Turnaround Times Affect Results

A testing lab’s turnaround times are vital to a cannabis producer’s operations

Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, naturally degrade in cannabis plants over time.

Inconsistent turnaround times (TATs) for laboratory results can wreak havoc on a producer’s operations, as the production schedule and ability to turn over cannabis products is dependent on when they receive the lab results. 

We would know, as our clients were very vocal about this issue when our turnaround times suffered this past year. Historically, our turnaround time was an average of 3-5 days. We maintained this average for over four years. When COVID hit, this average took a turn for the worse. Between COVID restrictions and maintaining a safe work environment, it took us up to 21 days to report results back at one of our lowest points. 

Our 3-5 day average turnaround time had been something we prided ourselves on as one of the most trusted testing labs in MA, so when we hit three weeks we were determined to restore our TATs to their former glory. Testing delays not only stifled our clients’ productivity, but also may have affected their actual results. 

So how do turnaround times affect a sample’s results? Let’s get into it. 


Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, naturally degrade in cannabis plants over time. While variables like light, temperature, humidity, and airflow will cause this degradation to occur much faster, it is bound to happen no matter the storage conditions. The same rings true for terpenes, the compounds which contribute to the plant’s taste and smell and are thought to have their own host of effects on the human body. 

While our facilities are equipped with fridges and freezers to store our perishable samples, degradation can and will occur given enough time. If a flower sample sits in our storage for two weeks, the cannabinoids and terpenes may test differently from if it was tested right away. 

MCR’s Turnaround Times

When we hit that three week return period, it was clear to us that drastic steps had to be taken to not only restore our previous timely results, but doing so while keeping the health and safety of our employees a top priority. 

We hired new team members, created new shifts, bought more instruments, and expanded our lab space. We did everything in our power to improve our turnaround times, provide the best service to our clients, and keep our workforce safe. 

We are very happy to report our turnaround times have returned to their standard 4 day average, with 93 percent of results reported within 5 days. They have remained that way for the last few months. While we can’t promise these turnaround times will never dip, we are working hard to establish preventative measures.

We are forever grateful to our clients for pushing us to do better, and our friends and partners within the cannabis community and industry who were understanding and accommodating at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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