Cannabis lab accreditation

In 2019 the Legislature passed a bill that transfers cannabis lab accreditation from the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board to Ecology. Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2052 into law and we’re now in the process of implementing and forming a multi-disciplinary cannabis science task force.

Female lab technician looks into a microscope with cannabis on the glass slide. A marijuana plant is in the foreground.

Image from Wikipedia

What the bill does

The bill requires a series of actions to take place that provide the groundwork for transferring cannabis lab accreditation to us. Some of these actions include:
  • Forming a Cannabis Science Task Force.
  • Developing products and other actions required of the Cannabis Science Task Force.
  • Rulemaking by Ecology so we can implement the accreditation program.

The importance of cannabis lab accreditation

The legalization of cannabis use in Washington has resulted in a number of cannabis products available throughout the state. To ensure consumers are using products that meet standards and are purchasing what is being advertised, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Department of Health require products to be tested by an accredited laboratory. Washington cannabis labs are required to test medical and recreational products for:  
  • Pesticides (medical only)
  • Heavy metals (medical only)
  • Potency
  • Moisture
  • Water Activity
  • Microbiology
  • Foreign matter
  • Residual solvents
  • Mycotoxin
Cannabis product testing is required and must be conducted by an accredited lab. To gain accreditation, a lab must demonstrate it's capable of conducting reliable tests and generating credible data. The testing of cannabis products by accredited laboratories provides confidence that the products are properly evaluated and meet product standards.

Gaps in current processes

The legalization of cannabis presents a number of challenges that many states face, including Washington. States primarily depend on federal laws and rules governing labs testing drinking water, food, and health care samples. Because cannabis has not been legalized federally, standardized testing practices have not been established. This leaves gaps, making it difficult for states to implement meaningful accreditation programs.

Developing standardized practices for testing labs will help fill the gaps and will provide a solid framework for accreditation.

Process to move accreditation to Ecology

Four steps for lab accreditation: 1. create a cannabis science task force. 2. Establish new lab quality standards. 3. policy and rule changes. 4. Ecology provides accreditation
Under the current law, cannabis testing lab accreditation will remain with the Liquor and Cannabis Board for the next few years while groundwork to transfer the program takes place.

As mentioned, there are a number of actions that need to occur to transfer accreditation to Ecology. We’re in the early stages of project planning and forming the Cannabis Science Task Force. We’ll be sharing information on our website and through email soon. We’ll continue to share information as our work progresses.

Cannabis lab report

We were directed by the Legislature in 2018 to conduct research and develop preliminary recommendations and protocols for accreditation standards for cannabis testing laboratories. To learn more about that report, visit our Cannabis Labs Report web page

If you’d like to stay informed about cannabis lab accreditation, please sign up for our cannabis lab email list.