Explore the cannabis lab testing requirements in Maryland to learn how growers work together with testing facilities to ensure product safety.

Cannabis Lab Testing: The Ultimate Maryland Guide

Have you ever wondered how your favorite cannabis products are tested for safety and potency? While regulations differ around the country, in the state of Maryland, cannabis lab testing has been around since the beginning of legal cannabis in the state.

When Maryland first legalized medical cannabis, the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) developed a set of regulations for testing the safety and potency of cannabis sold in the state. When adult-use (recreational) cannabis became legal, the same testing regulations applied.

This means that every kind of cannabis sold in the state of Maryland – whether it’s flower, edibles, or extracts for vaping – must be tested by state-licensed, independent labs for safety and potency.

Cannabis lab testing is not just a regulatory requirement – it’s a sign that the cannabis in Maryland is safe, consistent, and accurately labeled, which means you can consume with confidence. 

Keep reading to learn more about the science behind cannabis lab testing and discover how it helps to maintain the integrity and reliability of your favorite herb!

Gloved hand examining cannabis plant

What Is Cannabis Lab Testing?

Cannabis lab testing is a comprehensive analytical process where cannabis products are submitted to a laboratory to verify their contents, quality, and safety. This process is crucial to ensure that consumers are shielded from potential contaminants.

The cannabis lab testing process involves various methods depending on the specific lab, which can include gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry to accurately determine the composition of the cannabis product. These tests assess cannabinoid profiles, terpene content, moisture content, and detect potential contaminants such as pesticides, mold, and more.

Why is Cannabis Lab Testing Important?

The primary objective of cannabis lab testing is to analyze the levels of cannabinoids, the active compounds found in cannabis, such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). By doing so, consumers can be assured of the potency and the psychoactive effects (or lack thereof) to expect from the product. Accurate labeling allows users to make informed decisions, preventing unintentional overconsumption and adverse reactions.

Lab testing also identifies and quantifies any residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and microbial contaminants. These unwanted substances can be harmful to health and must be detected and removed before the product reaches the consumer. This makes cannabis lab testing indispensable for ensuring consumer safety and product reliability.

What Are the Different Types of Cannabis Lab Tests?

Because cannabis lab testing determines the content and potency of cannabis products as well as searching for contaminants, the testing process  is multifaceted. Below are the different types of cannabis lab tests that are typically conducted to ensure product safety and quality. 

Keep in mind that not all of these tests are required in Maryland. You can scroll down for more information about the testing requirements specific to our state. 

 1. Cannabinoid Profiling

This test determines the concentration of various cannabinoids in the product, including THC, CBD, and many others. It helps to verify the potency of cannabis, ensuring consumers receive accurately labeled products that meet their needs and preferences.

 2. Terpene Analysis

Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that contribute to its scent and flavor and can modify the effects of cannabinoids. Analyzing terpene profiles helps in understanding the product’s aroma, flavor, and potential therapeutic effects.

 3. Residual Solvent Testing

Some cannabis extraction methods use solvents, which must be completely removed from the final product. This test identifies any residual solvents that may be present, ensuring they are within safe limits.

 4. Pesticide Screening

Cannabis plants can be treated with pesticides during cultivation. Pesticide screening ensures that any residual pesticides are detected and are within acceptable levels, preventing potential harm to consumers.

 5. Microbial Testing

This test identifies any harmful bacteria, mold, or fungi present in the cannabis product. It is crucial for ensuring the product is free of microbial contamination, protecting consumer health.

 6. Heavy Metal Testing

Cannabis plants can absorb heavy metals from the soil. Testing for heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic ensures that their levels are within safe limits, mitigating risks to consumers.

 7. Moisture Content Analysis

Determining the moisture content of cannabis products is essential to predict their shelf life and to prevent mold growth. This test helps to maintain the quality and longevity of the products.

What are the cannabis lab testing requirements in Maryland?

All cannabis products sold in Maryland must be tested by a licensed cannabis testing laboratory. The Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) (formerly the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission) sets the minimum testing requirements for all cannabis products. The MCA also requires cannabis testing laboratories to be accredited by a recognized accreditation body.

Here are some links to the MMCC website with more information on cannabis lab testing requirements in Maryland:

What Are the Minimum Testing Requirements in Maryland? 

The following are the minimum testing requirements for cannabis products sold in Maryland:

  • Potency testing: All cannabis products must be tested for the levels of THC and CBD.

  • Residual solvent testing: All cannabis products must be tested for the presence of residual solvents used in the extraction process.

  • Microbial testing: All cannabis products must be tested for the presence of harmful bacteria and molds.

  • Pesticide testing: All cannabis products must be tested for the presence of pesticides.

  • Heavy metal testing: All cannabis products must be tested for the presence of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic.

How Often Is Cannabis Tested in Maryland?

Cannabis products in Maryland are tested at least once before they are sold to consumers. This is because all cannabis products sold in Maryland must be tested by a licensed cannabis testing laboratory. The MCA sets the minimum testing requirements for the state.

The MCA does not require cannabis products to be tested more than once before they are sold to consumers. However, some cannabis companies may choose to test their products more often to ensure safety and quality.

In addition to the presale testing requirement, the MCA also requires cannabis testing laboratories to conduct random batch tests on cannabis products that are already on the market. This is done to ensure that the products continue to meet the MCA’s requirements.

What Happens If Cannabis Fails a Lab Test?

If cannabis fails a lab test in Maryland, the product cannot be sold to consumers. If a product fails a lab test, the MCA will notify the company that produced it, and the company then either disposes of the product or remediates it so that it meets the MCA’s testing requirements.

The MCA also has the authority to take disciplinary action against cannabis companies that produce products that fail lab tests. This disciplinary action can include fines, suspensions, and even revocation of the company's license to operate.

Here’s an overview of what happens when a product fails testing:

  • The MCA will notify the company that produced the product, as well as any dispensaries that may have it in stock.

  • The cannabis company will have to investigate why the product failed the lab test and take steps to remediate the issue.

  • The company will also have to dispose of the failed product or return it to the cultivator for reprocessing.

  • The MCA may also conduct an inspection of the cannabis company's facilities to ensure that they are following state regulations.

The MCA takes cannabis lab testing very seriously, and they’re committed to protecting consumers from harmful products.

What Testing Does SunMed Growers Perform on Its Products? 

At SunMed, we’re committed to growing and producing the highest quality cannabis products. Here are some of the internal tests and standards we follow before sending our cannabis for independent testing:

  • Internal HPLC testing for edible production, which we perform ourselves prior to sending it to an independent lab. 

  • Annual and quarterly water quality tests on both production water and drinking water. This includes a full panel for metals, microbials, pathogens, and harmful chemicals that can leak into wells.

  • Third-party pathogen testing on Mother Plants to ensure they are clean and free of things like HLV (hop latent viroid) and Fusarium.

As a result, you can trust that sun-grown cannabis from SunMed is always a safe, consistent, and reliable way to experience the therapeutic and recreational effects of cannabis.