A Washington state scientist and cannabis consumer advocate has discovered evidence of “lab shopping” in Nevada using state cannabis laboratory data. Jim MacRae used publicly available lab results from Nevada’s busiest nine testing labs from January 2018 to May 2019. He was particularly interested in the failure rates for biological pathogens, heavy metals and pesticides, and potency results. After some negotiation, the state provided over eighty thousand “blind” data points for MacRae to analyze this summer.
Expecting a 10 – 15 % sample failure rate, MacRae instead found that some labs routinely had less than ten percent failure rates and one lab had no fails for a 14-month period, which raised red flags. Many of these same labs reported higher than usual THC rates, according to his report.
MacRae met with regulators in September, who quickly moved to address the problem.
“What impressed me most is how rapidly Nevada escalated the issues suggested by the data and also by how quickly the state acted. I presented my work on a Thursday afternoon and met with members of a number of different government departments on Friday. The following Monday, the Department of Taxation published a notice to the labs that put them on notice that the Department was ‘aware of and investigating potential inflation of THC levels by cannabis laboratories” and that such behavior was not acceptable.’ — Jim MacRae, in a blog post explaining the results.
Despite providing “blind” data, the state is aware of the problem labs’ identities, MacRae said.
“They could do much more by revealing what labs have the problems and what products are affected,” MacRae said in a phone interview with Ganjapreneur. “But, Nevada has done more in three days than Washington regulators have done in three years about similar problems in the Washington market, so I applaud what Nevada has done so far.”
According to the Nevada Current, the state has only suspended Certified AG Lab’s license, but has not made public the other labs and products in question. Instead, Nevada is asking consumers to “take caution” when buying cannabis products tested by Certified AG Lab.
MacRae has asked for a second round of data from Nevada with the identity of the labs revealed; he said he will know soon if they grant his request.