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.
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 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.
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.
Policy updates for new lab standards
Prior to new laboratory standards being adopted and accreditation transferred to Ecology, several state policies will need to be updated and rulemaking will take place.
Maintain the current private accreditation
Ecology and the Liquor and Cannabis Board will need to make changes to WACs and engage in rulemaking. While this takes place, the existing private accreditation provider that is contracted by the Liquor and Cannabis Board will continue accrediting labs.
Designate Ecology’s Laboratory Accreditation Unit
Once statutory requirements have been met and WACs and rules have been updated, our Laboratory Accreditation Unit will become the accreditation body for Washington cannabis testing labs.
Laboratories would be evaluated using our Laboratory Accreditation Units’ accreditation framework and revised cannabis-specific laboratory quality standards.
If you’d like to stay informed about cannabis lab accreditation, please sign up for our cannabis lab email list.