More rigorous testing will always be a net-benefit for the consumer — increased scrutiny lessens the chance of any harmful impurities finding their way into the final product on sale. However, for those who produce these products, more stringent testing can result in longer waiting times for test results and greater costs associated with the need to run additional tests.
To deal with this ever-evolving landscape of testing regulation, some cannabis extractors have begun to operate their in-house cannabis testing facilities. These vertically-integrated firms have the practical capabilities to carry out cannabis extraction and processing, while also having the means to test their products throughout the extraction process to ensure full compliance with local regulations.
With proper quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) measures in place, in-house testing is an effective way to reduce compliance failures, increase profitability by reducing waiting time, and ensure long-term sustainability as the landscape of the cannabis extraction and cannabis testing spaces continue to develop.
QC for In-House Testing
Just as for any standalone cannabis testing facility, QC is of central importance for all cannabis extraction facilities which may look to run their own testing operation. Testing operations that can demonstrate good QA and QC procedures will thus be able to prove that they are a credible testing facility capable of returning valid, accurate, and precise test results.
A good in-house testing operation will keep a record of all test results, and these results should be made available to customers upon request. Transparency in this area is key to maintaining credibility and building trust within the industry. Common QC samples that should be used by cannabis testing operations include the laboratory reagent blank, the laboratory fortified sample matrix/duplicate, and a laboratory fortified blank.
Laboratory Reagent Blank (LRB)
Sometimes known as a ‘method blank’ or a ‘preparation blank’, the LRB checks the reagents, apparatus, and sample preparation method used in the testing process for any traces of contamination or interference. This is normally an analyte-free matrix which is taken through the complete sample preparation and analytical procedure from start to finish, to ensure it accurately reflects any sources of contamination across the entire testing method.
Laboratory Fortified Sample Matrix/Duplicate (LFM/LFMD)
Also known as a ‘matrix spike’, the LFM is used to analyze a sample containing a known amount of analyte that has been ‘spiked’ into that aliquot of the sample. Its purpose is to determine the extent to which a sample matrix can bias the analytical results, and thus to demonstrate the method accuracy for a given sample material.
Laboratory Fortified Blank (LFB) In the LFB, an aliquot of organic-free reagent water spiked with known amounts of method analytes is used to determine if the fortification and analysis methodology used in the testing procedure is in control, and whether the laboratory is capable of making accurate and precise measurements at the required method detection limit.
The Importance of QA
QA is also vital in cannabis testing. In the absence of federal regulations, laboratories must take the initiative and carry out regular internal audits to ensure that industry best practices are being followed.
Robust QA measures help laboratories to defend any challenges to their data and test results. Good QA can be demonstrated by achieving an ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. In doing so, laboratories will have developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as evidence that they are using testing methods and processes which are in line with industry best practices in analytical testing.
QA can be improved through the introduction of automated testing workflows which ensure a well-documented chain of custody for every sample which passes through a laboratory. Additionally, regular employee training on the hazards involved in cannabis extraction and testing, and the maintenance of in-house analytical instruments will all provide for a good QA environment.
Why is a LIMS Crucial as an In-House Testing Software?
A good Cannabis Extraction Testing Lab LIMS software solution is an essential tool for laboratories in safeguarding their QA and QC procedures. A Cannabis LIMS provides a straightforward solution for all laboratory data management needs, and can help to comply with regulatory guidelines and industry accreditation standards. It also helps in scheduling calibration of in-house testing instruments and storing maintenance data, thereby preventing the use of obsolete instruments for in-house testing. A cannabis LIMS hosted in the cloud enables cannabis extraction laboratories to access data in real-time from anywhere, anytime.
By recording all data related to QA, QC, and test results in a Cannabis LIMS, testing operations can document a clear and unbroken chain of custody for every sample which is tested. Workflow automation can also reduce the need for this data to be manually entered into the system — greatly reducing human mistakes as a potential source of error. Specific to quality, a cannabis in-house testing lab software can also compare QC test results with the test results obtained from actual samples, making it easy to identify any anomalies and determine if the testing method is sufficiently accurate or precise.
This ability to intelligently manage all laboratory operations — from managing reagents to generating analysis reports — makes a good cannabis extraction testing lab software indispensable to the modern vertically-integrated cannabis company that values in-house testing and wants to ensure that their complete workflow is efficient and secure.