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California's $11 million cannabis lab is off to a rocky start

California has a new tool in its effort to regulate the state’s unruly cannabis industry: an $11 million cannabis testing lab run out of the University of California, San Diego. The lab’s first task? Shutting down labeling fraud in California’s multibillion-dollar pot marketplace. 

Pot labels have become deeply controversial in California. The state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) requires every cannabis product to be tested by a private lab for safety and potency and then labeled with the percentages of several components, including THC, the primary intoxicant in cannabis. 

Although such testing facilities are licensed by the DCC, industry insiders have for years accused labs of fraudulently inflating THC levels to lure more customers. In the past month, rumors turned into court action when lawsuits hit some of the state’s largest pot companies over claims they’ve been lying about how much THC their products contain.

The DCC claims the new UCSD lab will help clean up the state’s testing industry, in part by creating standardized methods for measuring THC in pot products. Interviews with insiders, though, paint a less rosy picture. The lab is off to a rocky start, over a year behind schedule, and still only partially operational. Three experts told SFGATE the standardized methods being developed by the UCSD lab won’t stop testing fraud in the real world, leading to questions over whether the state is effectively using its new multimillion-dollar lab effectively.

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