What’s in your weed? A Q&A with Devin Sears of Labstat/Labs-Mart

“As the cannabis industry matures, the best practices from the tobacco, food, and pharmaceutical industries will begin to make inroads and become standard practices”

labstat-sears

Devin Sears (right) of Labstat is working to create standards for testing in the cannabis industry. Photo at left by Creative-Family/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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When you you buy cannabis products, how do you know what you’re getting? Here in the Great White North, consumers are protected by Health Canada regulations. Do those regulations go far enough, though?

Labstat tests cannabis products for cannabinoid potency, foreign-matter contamination, pesticide residues, and other factors. The company points out that, unlike non-infused drinks, cannabis beverages are not required to have expiry dates. Nor are their stability or storage standards regulated.

Labstat is working to create standards for testing in the cannabis industry. These will assure consumers of vapes, edibles, and other products that what they’re buying meets the highest standards possible. 

Devin Sears is the Director of Research and Development for Labstat and Labs-Mart. CannCentral asked him about Canada’s safety standards and how cannabis consumers can stay informed.

Why should Canadians be concerned about what’s in the cannabis products they consume?

“Cannabis is a unique product that can be consumed in a number of different formats for both recreational and medicinal use. The way in which someone consumes a cannabis product carries with it a range of potential health risks. For example, smoking a cannabis pre-roll presents risks associated with inhalation. Whereas edibles and beverages are ingested and present an entirely different set of potential risks.

“The reason Canadians should be concerned about what’s in the cannabis products they consume is because of the unique risks each of these formats present. Understanding the compounds or ingredients found in each cannabis product will help consumers make more informed decisions about the risks they are willing to take with their health.

“While there are a number of research studies currently being conducted on a variety of cannabis product formats, there’s still a lot we don’t know. It is important for consumers to understand that Health Canada has expended a tremendous amount of effort to put in place regulations that ensure cannabis products are as safe as possible, mitigating your risks to the greatest extent possible.” 

Who officially oversees such things as expiry dates on perishable products?

“According to the Good Production Practices (GPP) it is the responsibility of the producer/manufacturer to establish the expiration, or shelf-life, of perishable products. This shelf life should be established through a series of scientific and controlled studies that monitor these products’ stability over time. The data collected in these stability studies will be reviewed by Health Canada during an inspection. 

“Labstat works with producers of all types of cannabis products to run these type of shelf-stability studies to help product makers understand the lifecycle of their products.” 

Why are we not seeing the same sorts of health and safety standards applied to the Cannabis industry as we see being applied to other industries like food and alcohol?

“This is only a matter of time. As the cannabis industry matures, the best practices from the tobacco, food, and pharmaceutical industries will begin to make inroads and become standard practices. 

“In the pharmaceutical industry, the term cGMP has become commonplace, where the ‘c’ denotes ‘current’.  The term current good manufacturing practices was coined to remind the pharmaceutical industry of the need for continual improvement. I suspect the same principle will apply to the GPP. What we will see in the future is reference to cGPP to indicate the current standards for good production practices.

What is Labstat/Labs-Mart doing to change this?

“Labstat/Labs-Mart is participating in various groups, such as C45 Association, to help give a voice to the testing facilities at the policy-setting levels of government.”

How can Canadian consumers get the facts they need to make informed choices about cannabis products?

“The single best source for information is Health Canada and the Canadian government. All the regulations, policies, and requirements are in the public domain and available through either Health Canada or the Canadian government websites.

“When purchasing a cannabis product ask to see the Certificate of Analysis or analytical test reports. These will verify the producer is following the Health Canada testing requirements and that the product you’re buying meets the highest standards possible.” 

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