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A look at The Valens Company's testing lab

Ensuring high quality throughout the production cycle

As bitter as it may sound, the cannabis industry has become accustomed to product recalls. Cannabis cultivation is an incredibly regulated part of horticulture, and growers are limited in terms of products and methodologies they can use. Being such a new industry, it is neither uncommon that some growers make a misstep every now and then. The problem is that such missteps can have disastrous consequences, as the final product could end up being contaminated. Tainted cannabis can have serious negative effects on customers’ health.

At the same time, there is a way to ensure that a cannabis product is safe for consumption. “Quality, quality, quality,” says Houssain El Aribi, Ph.D., Director, Labs of The Valens Company. “Standards are fundamental, you can’t produce a product without standards. Thing is, any product, whether food or cannabis, runs the risk of contamination, and this is a risk to the health of the consumers. It is probably even more important to ensure that cannabis is free of contaminants. That is one of the major roles of the testing lab at The Valens Company.”

An in-house testing lab
Unlike the majority of cannabis producers, The Valens Company has indeed set up its own in-house testing lab. “It is critical for us to really get the product right at every stage of production,” he continues. “We need to know everything that is going on throughout the production cycle. Having a lab within the company gives us a major advantage.”

This is truly a major advantage when it comes to an industry that is still young. “The regulators are learning the industry alongside the producers,” he points out. “We as a company committed ourselves to strict rules for quality in order to ensure consumer safety above all else.”

Product contamination
Cannabis products can be contaminated during any stage of production. “There are many types of contamination,” Houssain explains. “Microbial, mold, pesticides and heavy metals, these are the major ones that we have seen very often. Especially in the plant, where the moisture is present. Plants are at risk during the growth stage. In fact, a large percentage of mold begins at harvest because of high moisture levels poor air quality. Growers are also using pesticides and insecticides on their cannabis plants. Unfortunately, these pesticides can create issues within the cannabis industry as they are not removed from the plants and can potentially be harmful to human health. This happens because the cannabis plant is a bio-accumulator: it can easily take in pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins from the air and the soil. This is even a bigger issue when the cannabis is grown outdoors, where soil contamination is a big problem. It can happen anywhere during the growing that if you don’t test your product all the time, you can end up with particularly unpleasant issues.”

"Quality, quality, quality"
That is why The Valens Company has set up its own laboratory. “We have to make sure that quality control is high,” he remarks. Yet, setting up a lab surely is not an easy task to take on. “In a testing lab, many analytical instruments are needed, just as the experience of using dosing technology accurately. One of the most important things for a lab is to follow a certain accreditation purpose. Accreditation requires competent staff, validated methods, many documents, good quality management system, participation in cannabis PT programs, PMs for the instruments up to date, etc. Maintaining accreditation requires continuous monitoring of the laboratory quality management system and compliance with requirements, regular assessment and internal audits and follow up with corrective actions, etc.  We are an ISO/IEC 17025:2017-accredited lab through CALA (Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation Inc.), and we look for quality, quality, quality.”

Since there are no commonly accepted standardized methods in the cannabis industry, every lab must set up its own and follow them strictly. “The way it is, each lab has to develop their own testing methods and validate it,” he explains. “Which can cause some issues. The cannabis industry is in its infancy and it will change quickly as cannabis license producers will be more educated and will be choosing accredited labs to perform their samples analysis, which will ultimately force labs to seek accreditation. Thus, you really have to go by the book and focus on consumer safety. We, at Valens, value safety from the start, and this is going to bring us to the position of a global leader in the industry: we have the experience and knowledge to enter the international market and dominate it.”

For more information:
The Valens Company
230 Carion Road, Kelowna, BC, V4V 2K5
1 (778) 755-0052