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9 Essentials That Will Guide You to a Quality Hemp Testing Lab
The hemp industry can be challenging... then add in the stress of not knowing if you have quality test results on the product you are buying/selling?
Finding a hemp lab that can give you consistent, accurate, and quick results is essential to increase profit in this emerging industry.
We will walk you through 9 ways to vet a potential hemp laboratory and get the quality results you deserve!
How do I know how to find a quality lab? Well... I was born into it! Before starting AIT, our family successfully ran and grew a 3-generation grain testing lab to become one of the largest in the United States! We have seen the worst labs, the best, and everything in between.
1. Does the hemp lab test what you need?
Before getting too far in your journey, does the hemp lab you are using, or researching, do all the testing you need?
Typical tests for hemp products:
- Heavy Metals
- Residual Solvents
What tests, out of those listed above, do they offer? After reviewing that, it is also important to know what parameters in that test they are providing. For example, one lab may provide 7 pesticide results with their report, while another could provide 59 different pesticides.
Is your decision based on price? Make sure you are aware of what you are getting with that test, and that it meets the specs that are needed.
There are no federal regulations with hemp testing besides Total THC. Lack of regulations can cause different testing offerings from one lab to the next.
For example, our hemp lab is in North Dakota, but we default our testing practices to the Oregon Standards as we find that fits the needs of most state regulations.
Hemp products the lab can test:
After you verify the lab can do the analytical tests on your hemp, see if they can test the TYPE of hemp product you have.
Many testing labs can give results on hemp flower and hemp oil, but not every lab can test specific finished products like your CBD bath bombs, CBD coffee, or CBD facemasks.
Because these tests are very precise and done using robust instruments, some labs aren’t able to put just any type of product in a machine and have it spit out a result. Each product type and test is carefully validated and may be run using different methods.
Testing one type of product does NOT mean they can analyze any. Don’t waste money on shipping before checking this critical detail.
2. What certifications/accreditations should your hemp lab have?
Industries that have been around for decades have many certifications and accreditations a lab can achieve to show they are reputable.
Unfortunately, with the hemp industry being so new and lacking regulation, there are limited ways a hemp testing lab can show they are reputable.
However, the two principal quality initiatives that hemp labs can achieve will tell you a lot.
ISO 17025:2017 Accreditation for Hemp Labs:
ISO 17025:2017 is key to finding a quality hemp lab.
ISO 17025:2017 is accreditation from an international standards body that any testing lab from any industry can receive after enduring a rigorous quality and compliance audit and developing a detailed quality management program.
During the lab site review, auditors evaluate compliance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standards spanning several areas, including validation of methods, ensuring the validity of results, reporting of results, customer service, management systems, and confidentiality/impartiality.
Note that there are no standard logos for an accredited lab. One of the logos will show their accrediting body, for example, PJLA. That logo will tell you what website to search to validate their accreditation.
Come back to our blog soon to learn more about the specifics of an ISO 17025:2017 hemp lab!
Emerald Scientific Hemp Badges:
ISO 17025:2017 accreditation will show that a lab has consistent results with itself. It is also essential to feel confident that a lab is consistent with other hemp labs nationally.
Hemp labs can choose which tests to register for. The labs will then receive a known sample of hemp product to test. Labs enter results into a program without knowing the results. After submission, Emerald Scientific compiles data from all participating labs, showing if your lab is within tight tolerances.
If the lab passes, they receive Emerald Scientific Badges specific to the hemp test they registered for. Many labs will display these on their website and/or on their Certificates of Analysis.
3. Will they get you the hemp COA in time?
Turnaround time on hemp COA’s from labs is a big problem in the hemp industry.
Some labs can take up to 3-4 weeks to send you a COA after receiving the hemp product.
If a lab says it has a quick turnaround time but doesn’t specify the number of days, call or email to verify. When a lab has a quick turnaround time, they will likely promote that heavily on their site.
Time of year can have a significant impact on turnaround time as well. If a lab can get you a 5-day turnaround time in the summer, it could potentially be 2+ weeks during harvest. Ask what their turnaround time is like throughout different seasons.
Waiting on COA’s can significantly impede the profitability and efficiency of your hemp business.
Like many of us in the hemp industry, I can assume you probably have a lot to juggle. Receiving results is usually in the middle of an action, like selling your product or dialing in processing equipment. I know the last thing I would want is for a process to be delayed due to a 3rd party vendor.
For reference, there are labs out there that give 1-2 business day turnaround time.
4. Does the hemp COA match your professionalism?
You likely spend a lot of time and effort ensuring all your materials are professional to sell your product. You don’t have to let an unprofessional COA ruin it!
Take a look at a lab’s example COA and see if it has a look that you would be happy with sending to potential buyers or investors.
A lab shouldn’t have a problem sending you an example of their COA. This is a valid request to ask, and receive.
Come back to our blog shortly to learn more about COA’s, how to read them, and make sure you are not buying off fraudulent reports!
5. Do they have industry knowledge?
Is the lab you are vetting doing these tests on the side to fill machine time? Or do they invest in understanding the ins and outs of the ever-changing hemp industry?
You may be able to tell if the lab attends tradeshows and other industry events by skimming their social media pages.
You also shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them about your hemp business, why they got into the hemp industry, etc. Listening to an owner or their management speak about candid topics can give you great insight into how much they care about the industry.
You can also look at their blogs or their resources for their customers. (Don’t judge our blog too heavily right now 😉 We are moving sites and are in the process of migrating them over to the new platform!)
6. Is the lab affiliated with reputable hemp businesses?
Check if your lab is a PART of the industry, not just working in it.
What associations is the hemp lab active in?
Do they do testing for a state hemp contract?
Do they test for medical or recreational cannabis for a state?
If you can’t find out by their website, give the lab a call. Those actively involved will excitedly tell you about all the fantastic people they are growing alongside in the industry!
7. Do their current customers like working with them?
A hemp lab could talk themselves up all day, but what matters is what their customers think!
Check the hemp lab’s Google and Facebook reviews to see what their customers say. Do the reviews seem genuine?
If a lab doesn't have a lot of reviews, don't be afraid to ask them for references!
8. Will the hemp testing lab grow with you?
While vetting the lab, in your conversations, see if you feel comfortable talking to them about your dreams and goals for your hemp company. Let them know about what you want in the future and where you are heading.
If there are specific things that could hold you back, ask the lab their thoughts and what they want for the future of their lab.
Many times, having these candid conversations can give you a feel of the lab’s willingness to grow in the industry. It can also let you know if they would investigate specific requests or accommodations for you.
9. Find a Partner!
All in all, find yourself a partner! A hemp testing lab shouldn’t be a pain in your side that you dread.
Testing is a big part of any successful hemp business. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy working with them?
Find a lab that will do Zoom calls with you to talk you through your quality program. Find a lab that will get excited to look into new developments in the industry for you. Find a lab that is as excited and passionate about the hemp industry as you are.
Over to you!
Whether you are already using a hemp lab or are looking for your first place to send samples, you deserve to receive quality hemp results.
Take your new knowledge and comb through the lab’s website, material, and conversations.
Don’t be afraid to call or email with a list of questions. If the lab is a quality one, they won’t mind answering anything talked about on this list. You have a right to know any of this information.
It is time to trust your hemp testing lab!