#7 A Tour with Victoria at Cannasafe: A conversation with a licensed testing labs Sales and Accounts Manager
Chris: Hello, good evening and welcome to another edition of Cannalaw Connections, I'm your co-host Chris Hoo with Evergreen Law. Like the nice lady said I'm an attorney specializing in testing labs and manufactures for cannabis and tonight I have the pleasure of introducing you to Nicholas Romary, he's one of our associates with Evergreen Law. Nicholas welcome to the show.
Nicholas: Thanks Chris. Hi, as Chris said I'm Nicholas Romary associate with Evergreen Law. I specialize in working with our manufacturing clients, so those engaged in producing distillates, cartridges, edibles, basically anything that is not flowered at the end of a production cycle. I'm based in San Diego, just hosted our first SD Cannalaw Connections UN earlier this month and I'm looking forward to our next event in September. If you are in the area please check our website, Instagram, or Twitter page for details, I would love to see you there. And now I'd like to introduce Victoria Basso, sales and account manager at Cannasafe the first licensed laboratory in the city of Los Angeles.
Victoria, thanks so much for joining us, would you mind telling us about yourself?
Victoria: Thank you guys for having me, I'm really excited to be here. I just finished my third month at Cannasafe, I'm really excited to be at Cannasafe, I love what I'm doing I have a passion for product testing. I spent the last six years of my career working for a nationally recognized testing laboratory, shout out to QAI. They really taught me what it means to be a testing laboratory. They work with building products, consumer products like mattresses and furniture which is my specialty. So, I really understand what it means to bring a safe and compliant product to the marketplace and I'm bringing that same passion to cannabis because I am a cannabis patient, and consumer.
Nicholas: Great, wonderful. Thanks Victoria.
So, tell us a little bit about your background in public safety, can you delve a little bit more into that? Tell us a little bit more about where you come from and what you've been doing in your past roles? And then also get into your current role at Cannasafe, what are you doing there and how are you applying your public safety background?
Victoria: So, when I started at QAI I started in a finance position there which is what my education is in, and it just wasn't working out I was always in the testing lab asking questions, and I wanted to know why we did certain things. Flammability obviously is really fun to watch things getting set on fire, so it was an easy draw. But then I started to realize I'm a mom, and the things that I was buying in the store were actually test that we were performing at my laboratory, and things just started clicking, and I asked for a position in sales to learn more about what it means for companies to comply. I moved to Oklahoma, lived there for three years and I dealt specifically with mattress and furniture and building products. With building products, they got through certification programs where there is multiple test, multiple samples, multiple stages of compliance to go through and I really had to take the time to study and learn what those processes mean to products on the market. And then it also led to me learning about good manufacturing practices and what that means. So, I really spent a lot of time just developing my knowledge about compliance. I don't know where I was going after that. [Laugh] What was the next part of your question? I'm sorry.
Nicholas: I was asking about your role at Cannasafe.
Victoria: -at Cannasafe, that's right. So now my job at Cannasafe is to take that same level of understanding about compliance and apply it to the clients that we serve at Cannasafe which is exciting for me because in the cannabis industry right now it's like the wild west, there is no such thing as good manufacturing practices, there's nothing that is set for the cannabis industry to guide them to comply, but there are some things that I can share that I have knowledge of that will help them learn how to comply and get them to ask questions. Like ASTMD37, that's something I'm pushing on the cannabis industry right now for them to be aware of because ASTM is a really reputable organization, it literally governs the walls of the building we're sitting in right now. And they've come to play with the cannabis standard.
Nicholas: And, what does ASTM stand for?
Victoria: The American Society for Testing and Materials.
Nicholas: You mentioned certifications in compliance, one of them was the ISO certification, can you explain a little bit about that?
Victoria: Yes, so ISO17025 certification is specific to testing laboratories and that's something that we hold, something that we're very proud of. To be in ISO17025 accredited lab you have had to have an audit from what's known as a [ILACK 00:05:26] signatory which is basically a bunch of people who got together and said, "Look, you can evaluate labs, and this lab is good." So, it means a lot. We're evaluated on the same standard as labs that are working internationally.
Chris: Thanks Victoria. So, we got a chance to check out Cannasafe, at your location in [Vanice 00:05:48] last week and we saw first-hand how important it is to invest in technology and say that our technology and machinery, one of them were controversial things that people have been talking about for the comments to the bureau is about testing in parts per billion versus parts per million. And I know that in other states they were requiring testing microbials in billions, not millions.
Do you have an opinion about what the standard should be? And do you have an opinion as to the cost benefit analysis what's better for expenses and safety?
Victoria: I will say it is very important for labs to invest in the right equipment. So, at our lab we have all 2018 Agilent test systems and that's very important, right? Because the newest systems allow us to very easily switch between measurements like PPM, or PPB if required, and that's an advantage that we have because a lot of the operating labs right now in the state they went out and they purchased equipment that is used and affordable, but it might be a little bit older and just doesn't have the capability to do PPM or PPB. So, they just don't have that capability. What for us it's important to report per the states regulations, but as a consumer I think it is important that you know exactly what's in your cannabis down to the very minut smallest partical. We're talking about people who use cannabis as medicine for cancer or HIV, MS, there's just so many different things. So, I would want to know what's in my medicine. We hold, you know, pharmaceuticals to a standard that we would know exactly that's in it, cannabis should be treated the same. I do think it would be hard in the state of California for cannabis to pass PPB reporting just because of the sheer amount of agriculture we have in the state. Most of what we're growing right now in the state is either outdoor, or its greenhouse and drift is a real thing.
Chris: Absolutely, and if I understand correctly not only drift, but clones and soils, they can be passing down these partials for generations.
Victoria: Oh, you're exactly right. This is the first time I've been exposed to it. But we literally had plants come into our facility that have not been exposed to any pesticides whatsoever, documented, verified and they're showing equal twenty.
Victoria: Yeah, for years it's in their genetics. So how we will have to find solutions for this because it was used pretty heavily in California for a bit.
Nicholas: And what did you say that was? Evil twenty?
Victoria: Equal twenty, yeah.
Nicholas: And what is that?
Victoria: Equal twenty it is safe for agriculture, right? So, farmers spray it on things like tomatoes, corn, stuff like that. It kills pretty regular, you know, pest to farms. But when you add a flame to it, it creates carcinogens, so you're really damaging your lungs by inhaling product that has equal twenty.
Nicholas: What would you say is the most common testing process, or procedures that Cannasafe provides for its customers?
Victoria: So, the most common request are pesticide testing, as we're discussing, microbials, and potency. So, pesticide testing is really, really important. Not only are there a list of like sixty plus pesticides banned by the state, but it's just so commonly used. And because how people grow, and again the sheer amount of agriculture, you are finding a lot of crops that unfortunately they've done their best to create a good product, but maybe they didn't do proximity research when they choose their location, so their crops are coming up dirty. Microbials is a big one. We're finding- This will touch a hotspot, but a lot of the labs are not setup for QPCR testing for microbials and it's a real problem because aspergillus has four different strains, and you can't identify aspergillus in the typical colony forming measurements. So, it's very common that we're seeing microbials in a lot of what we're testing as well.
Nicholas: You mentioned an acronym.
Victoria: I can't tell you what QPCR stands for, but that is the method I wish I knew. That is the method we use to incubate the cannabis when we're testing it.
Nicholas: Okay. Just going back to my last question about what the most common test and everything are,
do you think that the customers that come in for those test are they there strictly because the bureau and California mandates it? Or are they there out of a real desire to verify the quality of their product?
Victoria: Honestly, I will say a hundred percent of my clients do want to produce a good product, they're just finding it's hard to comply with the amount of hurdles that are present to them. But people test because they do want to give a good product, there are some test that they feel they are forced to do that they shouldn't have to. Right now, just the way the system is setup in California really manufactures are being forced to do an RND test, like a full panel RND test before they do their full panel compliance test. I think that's the biggest headache for them is just to do basically double testing, but they want to do the testing, they just don't want to have to pay for so much testing.
Chris: What do you mean that the manufactures are being forced to do double testing now?
Victoria: So, without a standard testing matrix for cannabis, what we're finding is you're getting different results from lab to lab to lab like incredibly different results. For instance, I had a client who failed a test at a competing lab and passed the test at ours. We had them go back and re-run the test, they passed, the found out it was cross contamination, but there's just so many varying results, and so many different reasons for these varying results that you can have a failure and it not be a true failure and it gets reported to the state and now you have to remediate. So, to avoid that situation people are doing a full panel test before they have compliance testing done.
Chris: So, does that mean that most of or all of your clients that you work with are licensed, or in the process of being licensed? Or seeking that out?
Victoria: Yes. So, let's say eight-five percent of the clients that we service are licensed, but we do have a number of clients because we were an ISO17025 test lab before we were an approved California test lab that are trying to transition to the legal market. And to transition to the legal market you have to know the product that you're producing is safe.
Chris: Totally. And we're talking about now about like the tests that your clients are choosing to have done, or not choosing to have done, and for now some of them are optional. For example, heavy metals. Heavy metals the state is not requiring licensees to test until I believe December.
Chris: Can you tell me- Just to get a feel for how people are preparing,
what percent of your clients are testing for heavy metals ahead of schedule?
Victoria: Almost none. There's a few that are doing it. I think the education on heavy metals has been lacking, that's why there hasn't been that rush to let me do this now, but the reality is uptake in cannabis is amazing, and heavy metals can be absorbed through the growing medium, it can be absorbed through the water, it can be absorbed through the soil, whatever you are using. So, you should be testing for heavy metals now if you're model ready because you don't want that to be a surprise come December first when you crop, and you now fail the heavy metals test.
Chris: That's amazing that almost none of your clients are testing for heavy metals because they don't have to yet. That kind of shows you that the pulse of the industry, because that's how we were, and let's say we because we're all part of the industry. That's how we were on June 30th.
Victoria: I think it has to come down, it really comes down to high test cost, right? So, I'm a lab, obviously I like to take your money for testing, but at the same time I'm a consumer and I want an affordable product and the testing that is required and the amount of steps that manufacturers and producers have to go through to get a product out there, it is adding a very heavy cost to that end product. So, I think right now their mentality is if I can avoid putting in this test I can keep my price good for the market. I really- That's the feeling that I get. I mean, you have consumers that are literally walking out of license shops because they don't want to pay the tax and their product, this legal product is not getting bought because of a lot of misconceptions.
Chris: What is the standard testing turnaround time you promise to clients?
Victoria: We offer three to five business days to clients because it is really important that you can move quickly to get your product out there. Most test labs right now are just not setup for the volume of testing that we are. So, that's why we can promise three to five days confidently.
Chris: Three to five days confidently, and how has that been effected since regulations came down since testing became required?
Victoria: So, we actually didn't receive our license until August 1st, this is due to L.A. not writing an ordinance approving test labs until July 1st, so that was a real problem. But we were still-
Chris: I had noticed that. I had noticed that L.A. city conveniently forgot about writing anything about testing labs.
Victoria: Let's sell some product but give you no lab. [Laugh] Yeah, so that was a real thing. So, we did not have a lot of licensed business at that time because we were not a lisenced approved lab by the state of California, but we did have a lot of clients coming and doing their RND testing with us. Since we got our license that has only increased exponentially actually, we're doing quite a bit of testing. It's really almost doubling on a daily basis.
Chris: Your testing has almost doubling on a daily basis? Interesting.
Victoria: Yeah, the amount of request that we're getting to come out and pick up sampling products. So, we're about forty-five days away from fully servicing northern California, but like there was such a need in northern California that they're contacting southern California test labs for testing. And we know northern California is the home of [SE 00:17:16] labs and RESCO, some good labs, but literally they're in a need for testing that they're contacting southern California labs.
Nicholas: So, where are most of your customers located?
Victoria: Most of our customers are located in Los Angeles, probably eight-five percent of them, but that's actually changing pretty quickly. We have a lot of clients that are out in the desert right now as well. So, we're expanding pretty quickly.
Chris: Victoria, during the lab tour you gave us you mentioned that you're able, that Cannasafe was able to test four hundred, eight hundred samples a day?
Victoria: Right now, we can test four hundred samples a day. So, our plan is to get up to eight hundred samples a day very quickly, as the need arises. We're actually already outfitted to add more HPLC machines to our pesticide room. We're outfitted to add more GCMS machines to our other pesticide room. [Laugh]
Chris: And can you give me a ball park figure for what percent of your testing samples are flower and what percent are manufactured products?
Victoria: Right now, we're seeing more manufactured products than flower I'd say it's probably sixty/forty.
Chris: Sixty/forty? Got it.
Victoria: Yeah, but the manufactured products that we're seeing coming through I will say there had been some things in the news recently about poor product coming through especially with vapes, right? I will say what we're testing, we're seeing a lot of good products and that gives me hope for the market because I personally actually don't vape after hearing a lot of news and things that were going around in the market. I actually don't try anybody's vape. So, yeah it gives me hope. I can see that people are doing the right things to put good product out to the market.
Nicholas: So, once the testing is complete, what happens to the cannabis products? Are they destroyed? Or returned? Or how does that work?
Victoria: After testing we do typically have an excesses product because we sample more product than what is needed for testing because we go based on batch size, right? So, if we took- And this is just a for instance, if we took a pound from your grow for testing we probably only used seven grams of that to do the required test. So, after forty-five days that product is put into an autoclave and destroyed, and the waste is picked up and collected. It's very sad actually.
Nicholas: So, how do you deal with a failed test sample? And what type of issues does that cause with the client in the laboratory relationship?
Victoria: We run into failures almost every day. There are different types of failures, what I'm seeing right now the most common type of failure are on topicals and edibles and those are labeling claims, potency. So, this goes back to not having a standard testing method for cannabis and no standard even for the machines that are being tested on. So, you might really legitimately have done everything in your power to make sure you're putting out a potent product, but your lab might not have the right equipment and potency might not be off. And so now you put it in a new machine and a new lab and you get a lower potency, well now you have to re-label your product and you're also probably going to discount your product because it's not as potent as you thought it was.
Nicholas: Do you have inconsistencies within your own laboratory?
Victoria: So, no actually. We run thirty percent quality test out of the four hundred test that we're doing a day, thirty percent of those are quality control test. And what quality control test are, are known and unknown samples. So, we'll run a sample that we'll know is dirty and will have specific pesticides at a certain level on it just, so we can make sure we're going to consistently get that result. And then we also run clean samples after that to make sure, hey, we're getting a clean result from the machine as well. So, quality testing is a really important part of a test lab itself running its own checks. It's basically a calibration of your equipment.
Chris: The quality of the testing you're talking about, that's the double testing you're talking about earlier?
Victoria: No, that's quality testing for manufacturers and producers. Quality testing in a lab is much different. Quality testing in a lab is a way to calibrate and verify your results that you are getting consistent results. So, that's why you run known and unknown samples. And what a known sample is it's known to have certain pesticides, we should get a certain result from this or in that certain area of deviation every time we run the sample.
Chris: I understand, thank you Victoria.
Victoria: You're welcome.
Chris: When we were- Again,
you were giving us a tour of Cannasafe, it was great it was in Venice, are most of your clients in Venice? You said they are mostly in Los Angeles?
Victoria: They're mostly in Los Angeles, but we actually do have a lot of Vanice and like Sherman Oaks area-based clients and for them I think it's really convenient, they walk into our lab, they ask our lab director any questions, they ask my samplers questions, they ask me questions. We're local, we don't mind being a resource, we're very transparent. There's a lot of information that the cannabis industry doesn't have access to that maybe we do. So, we definitely want to be a resource to our L.A. clients.
Chris: I know it's in line with your desire to standardize results, standardized testing procedures. You offer at Cannasafe- This is a shameless plug for you, but you did ask for it, I'm doing it for you. You offer a five hundred-dollar California compliance package of testing-
Victoria: I do.
Chris: Can you tell us a little bit about that? And how you make sure that it stays in compliance with California specifically?
Victoria: So, the California compliance package for flowers, everything that is required by the state to be compliant, category one, category two, for pesticides, microbials, the foreign matter inspection, everything that is required. We ensure that the package is compliant in a few different ways. The people that work in my lab first and foremost, we're nerds, we like reading the law, we like reading things that you have to comply with. We will tell you the difference between this and shall in the standards. So, we read the standards ourselves, but on top of that we do employ counsel to ensure we are also interrupting it the same way. So, there is that check in balance to make sure that we're interrupting it, somebody else has verified that and it is compliant. We also interact very regularly with the BCC, City PH, Cal Cannabis, everybody.
Nicholas: Is Cannasafe submitting comments to the BCC?
Victoria: So, we are submitting comments. I don't have the specific codes to site for you, but we are submitting comments. And really what they are, are more clarification from the different departments that govern things. For example, for the City PH when do you want us to sample and maybe there is a way to make this better for our manufacturers, so they don't have to relabel constantly if there is a labeling failure. So, we're just asking for clarification and maybe giving our input a little bit into what we're seeing going on.
Chris: But you've had a previous relationship with the BCC, you're going to have a continuous relationship with the BCC because as we've discussed these comments they're constantly evolving, they're going to be evolving for years to come, especially as we go national and international in terms about hopefully standardization of cannabis regulations.
Chris: And kind of piggybacking onto that,
do you interface primarily with unregulated market clients? Or are they mostly BCC licensed, trying to get licensed clients?
Victoria: Right now, they are mostly BCC, or trying to get licensed clients, but we are allowed to test for anybody that has a medical recommendation. So, if you come into my lab and you have your rec and you give me a product that you want to test, I can test that product for you.
Chris: What do you mean you are allowed to test with a medical license?
Victoria: So, what the BCC has said as a California approved lab we can only test for distributors or for people who have a medical recommendation. So, it really is just another check in balance trying to get that unregulated market out is what it is. Now we first and foremost are a cannabis testing lab, so anybody that is growing cannabis, or is using cannabis and has a medical recommendation is welcome to come and test their product at our laboratory.
Chris: So, you mentioned earlier that it takes three to five days to turn a test around?
Chris: Can you describe just at a high level what that process is from start to finish once you submit the product, or have it picked up?
Victoria: So, actually we'll start from the beginning. So, we're finding this is a real problem. So, when a manufacturer or a distributor makes a request for- Actually when a distributor makes a request for compliant sampling there's a lot information we need to have beforehand. We need batch information for instance, we need to know what your batch size is. If you tell me that there are three thousand vape carts in these boxes it needs to visually look like three thousand vape carts, it can't look like three hundred. You can tell the difference between those sort of things. Distributors are not always prepared for that and I will explain why. They'll still be in the process of making that batch of cartridges, but hey three hundred are ready, it's all the same product, just test from this three hundred. Well no, that's distillate is getting put into three thousand cartridges, so that's your batch, so that's what I need to see. So, I'm finding that the education really starts from the time that you begin that sampling event. This is the information that you need to have for us for us to come out there. We verify licenses, make sure that the license is current, not revoked, renewed, it is to who it says it should be that the area that we're picking up matches that license.
When we get to the facility we have to be on camera so the manufacture, the distributors need to have an area that's easy for us to access and take their product and sample it. And they're the ones responsible for keeping the video camera. And once it gets to our lab that's really where the fun begins. So, intake is photographing the samples, weighting them, measuring them, just all of that kind of data collection information. But the first actual process that the cannabis goes through is homogenization. So, flower it's a bunch of kitchen grinders and we grind the weed up and we make sure we've got one represented sample.
And then the first test that it goes through is microbials. Microbials takes twenty-four hours and we're testing for four different types of microbials. The four different types of aspergillus, E.coli, salmonella, and now I've blanked on the fourth one, but there is a fourth one.
After microbials it goes to our pesticides room. And so, there are two different methods to quantify pesticides in cannabis and the first is HPLC which is High Performance Liquid Chromatography. And basically, it's a bunch of liquids running through this column. Please come tour my lab so you can see it. And it separates the different components that would be in the cannabis if there are pesticides present.
The other way we quantify pesticides is through GCMS. Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, that's a lot of words. So, not all pesticides are water salvable, so you have to run them through a really hot column. And so, you can capture that pesticide as a gas in a little vial, it's actually a really cool test it reminds me of like NCIS. Then after that if it's a solvent, or if it’s a concentrate it will go through residual solvents.
Visual inspection is done during intake, yeah that's basically it. Oh potency, that's what I forgot. So, we will also test for potency and that's done through the GCMS machine as well, the gas mass spectrometry.
Nicholas: And then once it's all done in that forty-five-day period?
Victoria: In that forty-five-day period, yeah.
Nicholas: Interesting. I heard you mention batch sizes and that becoming an issue.
Victoria: It is.
Nicholas: Do you feel like there's contention between manufacturers that want to produce large batch sizes, but don't want to risk a bad batch not passing the test?
Victoria: It's really a convolution of a lot of different things. It's not being prepared for really what good manufacturing practices are. It's not being prepared and realizing this is what the law says that you have to do to comply, and it is really spelled out for them in the regulations, or if they were to obtain console, they could verify that hey, you need to have your batch ready before they even get there to sample, otherwise you're creating a situation where we don't know what you're selling. We might see three hundred things, but really those other twenty-seven hundred products could be something totally different, so we have to visually verify those batches.
Chris: Right, and then I think Victoria, obviously all that bs, they're limited in how much longer they can do that, right?
Chris: We're going to give them the track and trace system, we're going to get much more better about getting on video and following the regulations everyone is going to get much more tight in following the regulations as time moves on. But let's forget about the people who are used to kind of taking shortcuts, or not following the regulations because these are the people who have to evolve and have to grow up now, let's talk about the people who are trying to get it now who want to just get it now and not even bother with the non-regulatory, non-compliant way of life.
Victoria: There are a lot of really good companies out there doing really great things. There is a distributor out in the high desert actually that is so organized that every time we go out there we know what to expect, they are prepared for us, they have their batches ready, they have them packaged. In fact, when they've experienced labeling failures I feel bad for them because I know that they've done everything that they can to be compliant, but they take it in stride, they re-label they've been through this already so they just, hey this is what we've got to do, we've already talked to the BCC, it's re-labeled, can you come back and sample? Yeah.
Chris: So, probably less opposition from people who are kind of newer, more flexible anyway?
Victoria: There's a lot less opposition from people who are trying to do it right I will say about what the process means and when you run into a failure and how that all works out. And they understand that failures happen and that it's not their product, it at the moment probably is just a part of the system and the way things work.
Chris: What do you think an interfacing with your client base is the biggest issue to be addressed with the regulations as they stand?
Victoria: I think the biggest issue is that they do need to get more involved with- They need to show up to the BCC hearings, they need to show up to public comment, they need to talk to CBPH, they need to tell them the cost, the actual cost of their business that they're experiencing, because it's all at the end of the day relates to the consumer in my opinion because I'm a consumer and I hate paying for expensive product, I want really good product at a really affordable price. So, I do think they need to show up and they need to talk about their hurdles and their struggles because I think the BCC and all of the regulatory bodies want to have these conversations with manufactures and distributors. So, I think show up, talk to them, don't just complain about the situation, have a solution and have a conversation with these people.
Chris: Absolutely, and I think anybody who is a licensee, or their employees, or who is going to be dealing with commercial cannabis in California is going to have a relationship with the BCC period whether you like it or not.
Victoria: Exactly. Yeah, even consumers should be more aware of what the BCC is regulating so they can have their voice heard.
Chris: Right, absolutely. So, you are the sales and account manager for Cannasafe?
Chris: You're the primary point of contact between clients and Cannasafe?
Victoria: I am.
Chris: So, what's one of the most common challenges, or questions, or complaints that you get from clients?
Victoria: The most common challenge I get is do you really need to see my whole batch? Because I'm having to transport it from a different location to this location just for you to sample. Honestly, that is the biggest. So, if you are a cultivator, you might be cultivating in a different facility then where you are pre-packaging your eights and then distributing them from. And so, to see the whole batch because the curing might just be at a different time. It is, it's a struggle for them, so that's the most common question, do I really have to show you my whole batch?
Chris: So, one of the most common challenges for you is them saying, "Do I really have to follow the rules?"
Chris: Wow, okay.
Victoria: Yes, it really is. And I think it's just because of the hurdles of having to have the transportation license and all of that. I feel like there is hurdles in place for them.
Chris: Yeah, but even for them to ask, the fact that they're asking, that's very interesting.
Victoria: It is for me as well. The second is how should I label? My should my packaging labeling look like?
Chris: They ask you about compliance questions for packaging labeling?
Victoria: They do.
Victoria: They really do. So, and what that says to me, honestly, is that people in the cannabis industry are looking for a resource. And I will tell you in any other industry the lab is traditionally that resource for that industry. How do I label my MSDS? How do I comply with this? The lab is that source of information for an industry. And right now, the labs need to step up and really show, hey this is- Let us be our voice, let us explain some things, and let us help you and walk you through this. So, they have more information that they can be sharing to BCC.
Chris: Right, absolutely. I think we're still trying to move our culture out of the shadows.
Chris: We're used to government agencies and-
Victoria: Oh, it's still the police.
Chris: Yeah, big brother. We're scared, we're working the shadows. The trust is going to be extended both ways, but obviously the people who are not trusting they have to take the first step.
Victoria: That's it, that's really what it is. You just have to take the first step, that hey the state really wanted a regulated industry and they're not trying to screw you.
Nicholas: So, one of the things that you mentioned earlier was that if you do have a failed batch that remediation is a possibility?
Victoria: It is.
Nicholas: Can you describe that at all?
Victoria: So, labeling is a great way that remediation is possible. So, if you failed and the potency just isn't what you think it is, you can put a new label on it and just say, "Hey, this is what my potency really is." It is much harder to remediate failures for pesticides, or microbials, or anything like that if it's very heavily present in the batch.
Nicholas: So, you mentioned that the initial labeling is where the issue is at, does that bring into play that double testing that you were talking about where you have the initial test...?
Victoria: It does, it does.
Nicholas: -and then the second one, okay.
Victoria: You caught it. So, what's happening a lot of times is that the distributor, or the manufacturer, whoever is doing their RND test and they're going to one lab who is probably giving them a really, really, really good low price on their RND testing. And then they're going to a compliance lab that can move the testing through in a quick turnaround time and getting a failure.
Nicholas: So, what's to stop these manufacturers, or cultivators from coming straight to you rather than doing this intermediate test?
Victoria: Well, most of our clients have realized they have to do that intermediate test, but they've realized, well I'm just going to work with one lab, because now I'm going to have consistent results, I'm just going to get a consistent report, I have something to depend on. And so, they stop shopping labs.
Chris: Victoria, you talked about remediation from microbials, microbial failures and pesticide failures to be harder, but not impossible?
Victoria: I couldn't speak to how they are remediated quite frankly, I just don't have that knowledge. But it is, it's almost impossible from what I do know. If you really are using pesticides in your batch, and some people are, you know, maybe inadvertently because things are not always labeled, they might have bought something, and it doesn't have, you know, this is a different name for what's going to turn out to be a banned pesticide. If you've used it, then you've used it and it's in the whole batch now, what can you do?
Chris: Okay, so is what you are saying that Cannasafe engages in remediation for homogeneity failures, but not others?
Victoria: Exactly. Exactly. So, that, homogeneity is the real problem, so that's why we sample the way we do. So, we'll re-test if you run into a failure. So, we'll re-test that's why we grab so much sample. We'll re-test from the sample that we grabbed and re-homogenize the sample and re-test, but typically if it fails again it's a true failure.
Chris: So, you see a lot of products come through the lab, and I'm sure as a user you take note of the good ones and the bad ones.
Victoria: Yes, I do.
Chris: Have you seen any trends? Or is there anything that's changed depending on the location, or the source?
Victoria: I personally don't vape because of all of the bad test results that I've seen, but I will say that's definitely improving there's a lot of really good products actually that are coming out the market probably in the next few weeks that I'm aware of.
Chris: So, you might start vaping again?
Victoria: I might, just for the ease of that car ride some days. I might. I will say that there's a brand out there that I will plug, Potter's which is an amazing product, and that's a great vape and I've tried it. We test for them, it's a good product.
Chris: So, if they didn't pass the test, where were they failing?
Victoria: Most vapes that I've seen fail pesticides.
Victoria: Yes. And my guess is that it's bought from poor trim, yeah and just poor grows.
Chris: Well, that makes sense.
Chris: So, Victoria you also talk to clients who fail test, and you are responsible for their relationship?
Chris: Can you tell us- I don't know how detailed you can get, but
can you tell us how relationships are affected? And do some people just want to quit the relationship and do some people just want to quit the relationship and don't want to have anything to do with you after failing?
Victoria: Yes, yeah, that's for sure that's a reality. Some people realize that hey, I failed, I'm just not going to do business with you, but I think that's a result of them understanding there's better equipment and better processes at our lab and it's going to be much harder to pass than it would be at competing labs. And again, that comes down to those standard testing methods that are just not in the industry right now. The way the industry is setup it really allows producers and manufacturers and distributors to shop for the lab that's going to pass them.
Chris: When your customers have these failures do they come to you and ask for suggestions on how to repair it?
Victoria: They do. They ask why did I fail? What happened here I have this test report from this lab and it says one thing and this pesticide didn't pop up over there. Well, we can pull up a whole graph of stuff and say hey, actually this did pop up, maybe not in the concentration that they're showing, maybe look at their results, ask for their graph, ask some questions about what happened. But we do, we'll interrupt their reports for them and answer whatever questions that they have.
Chris: Okay, so just to close Victoria, can you tell us some of the challenges your company Cannasafe is facing right now? And in a year, five years, ten years, what kind of challenges are they going to face?
Victoria: I think right now our biggest challenge is the huge amount of growth. There's just so much testing labs literally walking in the door and calling I need you guys to come out and sample for us. I think that's our biggest challenge at the moment. I think a year from now I think it will be the fact that there is still not a standard method in California for testing Cannabis. You're probably going to see a lot of recalls, either voluntary, or not voluntary, but without a standard test method to test cannabis you're creating a market where people are shopping for test results to whoever is going to pass them, and that's not something that is done with ill intention, it's just a reality of the equipment and processes that might be available at other labs.
Chris: You mentioned standardized test seeing processes a couple of times which indicates to me that that's very important to you?
Chris: Can you tell us a little bit about your efforts, and Cannasafe efforts to get some standardized testing methods?
Victoria: So, we have been participating in ASTMD37, I was at the last committee meeting in San Diego and I added public comment to a lot of the different issues. ASTMD37 is going to cover cultivation, transportation, distribution, and testing lab methods. Testing labs methods is moving the most quickly actually because there is such a need for it internationally. So, at this last meeting the Ministry of Health of Mexico was there, the Ministry of Health Canada was there, ever state with legalized cannabis in some form had a represented there. The department of weights and measures showed up. I was sitting next to him and was like, "Why are you here?" But it actually matters to the calibration of the equipment that you're using and all of that. People are hungry for standard because every regulated industry has a standard to comply with, and that's what science is, right? It's we've all come to this conscious that this is the best method to test this product, and you're going to get the most valuable information if you use this method. So, we do need a method that's come to agreement.
Chris: Well, thank you so much Victoria, that was fantastic information and I really appreciate it.
Victoria: You're welcome, thank you guys so for having me, I really appreciate it, it was a good evening.
Chris: Thank you.
Victoria: You're welcome.
Chris: So, Victoria where can we find you?
Chris: And don't forget to check us out on EventBright and Meetup.com where we have our monthly events in Hollywood and now in San Diego. Cannalaw Connections check us out.
Victoria: I'll see you there.
Chris: Well, that conclude another episode of Cannalaw Connections, thank you Victoria Basso for joining us, thank you Nicholas Romary for co-hosting Cannalaw Connections.
Nicholas: Thank you for having me, good night.
Victoria: Good night.