Avoiding Common Mistakes in Hemp Testing + Compliance
Avoiding Common Mistakes in Hemp Testing + Compliance:
Aurum Labs has been an exclusive cannabis and hemp analytical testing lab since 2014. In that time, we have seen growers and processors struggle with similar issues and mistakes. We created this list of recommendations to help prevent the most common industry pitfalls.
- Perform Environmental Soil Testing Before Planting – Hemp is a well-known phytoremediator, which means it pulls toxins from the air, water, and the soil and stores them in the plant material. Hemp is also a bio-accumulator, absorbing heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury from the soil in which it is grown. Soil testing before planting is critical to ensure your soil is free from contaminants.
- Source Seeds from Reputable or Certified Seed Sellers – Consult your State or Tribal hemp plan to determine the requirements for certified seed as they vary widely. Consult AOSCA (Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies) for hemp varieties eligible for certification HERE. Request Certificates of Analysis (COAs) from seed dealers, if available, for the genetics you will be purchasing. Many States’ Departments of Agriculture websites maintain public data on the THC test results of common hemp strains. Be sure the seed container has a label that clearly defines the strain/cultivar and quantity purchased. It takes multiple generations to stabilize genetics and even if they stabilize, the cultivar’s cannabinoid content is still dependent on a variety of environmental factors. Be cautious and do your research before sourcing any seed that claims to be certified or guaranteed. Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted (10 days after) their first leaves, you can start sex type testing directly with Aurum Labs.
- Test Early and Often – We suggest sending samples in for potency testing as early as 5 to 6 weeks after plants begin to flower. This will give you a good base line to determine the frequency you want to submit samples as your plants mature. We usually recommend testing every 2 weeks to monitor your cannabinoid levels, especially if this is your first season. This will help you select a harvest date based upon your THC potency results over time. For Industrial Hemp Products, such as tinctures, salves, etc. we suggest testing your starting materials (crude, distillate, isolate) before formulating and your final product for each production batch.
- Keep Your Grow Clean – See our full blog post for all our recommended protocols if you are growing indoors. Control the humidity and temperature, use HEPA filters, eliminate items that can hold moisture, remove any standing water, use a spraying regimen to control fungal growth, use a 10% (by volume) freshly prepared bleach solution to disinfect surfaces, and regularly use 70% isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for cleaning work areas and tools. If you are growing outside, use sterile techniques during post-harvest handling. Proper storage of the harvested plant material is important.
- Take a Representative Sample – If you plan to provide test results to a buyer, you should submit a test sample representative of what you are selling. For potency compliance testing, check with your State or Tribe to determine the proper way to submit a test sample. If you are selling the entire plant (as biomass), you should determine the cannabinoid content of the entire plant, not just the flowers or buds. The individual parts of a plant (stems, stalks, fan leaves, etc.) can each have varying amounts of cannabinoids in them. You may want to submit multiple samples from a harvest if you have different cultivars or a larger harvest. For USDA sampling guidelines click here.
- Post-Harvest Handling – Once you have COAs for your harvest, it is important to handle and store the material in a way that preserves its integrity. Store harvests away from light and heat, in clearly labeled, sealed containers in an environmentally controlled area, ideally at about 8-10% humidity. Be sure to clean and sanitize the area regularly to prevent the growth of microorganisms.
- Provide a Full Panel COA from an ISO accredited lab for Potential Buyers – Hemp growers and manufacturers know that transparency is key to building customer confidence. Many companies now include QR codes on their product labels and easy-to-access COAs on their websites. This assures buyers that a product is safe to consume, and that measures have been taken to assure the quality, safety, and efficacy of the product.
- Understand Compliance & Regulations – Compliance can be challenging because rules are difficult to interpret yet important to understand and follow. State or Tribal Agriculture Departments typically oversee hemp cultivators. As a processor or product manufacturer, your State or Tribe’s Department of Public Health may require licensure or additional compliance testing. Much like hiring an accountant to help you understand tax code, hiring a cannabis attorney or consultant can be beneficial to help guide you through the complex rules and regulations. Be sure to understand your State or Tribe’s Hemp plan as well as the USDA Final Rule. It is important to partner with an experienced lab that understands proper testing of hemp and cannabis on a State, Tribe, and Federal level such as Aurum Labs.
We hope you found this information helpful. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We are dedicated to the hemp industry, and your success is paramount to our overall success.
Call us at 970-422-1867 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aurum Labs was a Gold Sponsor at our 6th Native American Cannabis & Hemp Conference in June 2021.