Facing questions over inconsistency in laboratory testing and fears that some state-licensed labs have allowed contaminated cannabis to slip through the cracks, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has announced the adoption of emergency rules aimed at raising standards for cannabis testing.
The emergency rules establish a proficiency testing program for labs and clarify how the LCB can suspend or revoke licenses for state-accredited testing facilities. They took effect Wednesday and will remain in place until Aug. 4. In the meantime, the LCB will pursue permanent rulemaking, it said in a press release Thursday.
“If anything, this will take some of the burden off of producers and processors who have been getting mixed results on the same products from state-accredited labs,” attorney Hilary Bricken told Leafly. “It’s further assurance that industry participants at all levels are going to be held accountable for quality control, which is a big win for consumers.”
Proficiency testing, already in place in Oregon and Colorado, is a technique used to ensure that different labs return uniform results. The method involves assessing laboratories' accuracy by giving them samples with known properties and then checking their results against a third-party lab. Under the new rules, certified laboratories must register for the next available round of testing and complete at least two rounds per year.
The emergency rules also establish a variety of reasons for which a laboratory might lose its state license. Inconsistent results, false documentation, and wrongdoing by laboratory staff are among those reasons. The full text of both new rules is included below.
The announcement comes alongside a recent recommendation by Washington auditors that a Poulsbo testing lab, Testing Technologies, lose its license over “consistent inaccuracies” in test data and “blatant disregard for good laboratory practices as well as sound scientific methods.”
Some industry members and even certain laboratories have complained that a few labs focus more on keeping business that returning accurate results. There are — for now — 14 state-accredited labs in Washington state.