Russell Thomas, Laboratory Director Clinbotics LLC
Why are there such dramatic variations between laboratories?
I was recently asked why there’s so much variation on test results between labs. Its not an easy question to answer because it can be one or many reasons. As the industry matures, interested parties are realizing the importance of recognizing legitimate cannabis laboratories.
Accredited laboratories live by managed scientific rules and routines. Labs are constantly updating documents, training staff, resolving issues concerning performance, and improving customer satisfaction. Laboratories that earn and maintain the approval nod (accreditation) by a sanctioned conforming accrediting body (CAB) regarding the laboratory’s scope of accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025:2017, are competent within their stated scope of accreditation. Participating labs shall collaborate with peer reviewed performance testing (PT), inter-laboratory comparison, and record adequate daily quality control suitable to mirror the routine testing of randomly collected complex agricultural samples.
ISO/IEC standard is meant for general competence. If a lab doesn’t document a record of task … it didn’t happen. Documentation, and the trail it leaves, is the evidence or proof a lab did something. You’ve trained your staff, you’ve calibrated, you’ve performed checks, etc. If something goes wrong … heaven forbid, you have evidence to support you did the right thing or where to come clean and how to improve. Transparency is the key; honesty is the lock.
If a laboratory customer comes to you in a regulatory environment and you don’t have records to support all the things you claim or are supposed to have completed, you can be in big trouble to the point of no longer being in business or ending up in court. The lab may be complicit for health and or financial implications and held liable.
We all want the result to be correct, comparable and feel confident. Remember, being correct is the performing lab’s best estimation, a probability of a data point falling within an established range of statistical variation.
In anticipation of state regulatory requirements gaining greater traction, I envision state licensed laboratories to become traceably obvious and the overall number of current licensed compliance testing laboratories to decline.