Cannabis Laboratory Testing:
A Guide to Getting Started

Lab Set-Up

Starting a cannabis microbiology laboratory doesn’t have to be daunting. Whether you’re a seasoned microbiologist, a chemist, or a business professional, with the right partnerships and guidance, an efficient and reliable microbiology laboratory for cannabis testing can be a profitable reality.

Cannabis microbiology labs focus Research & Development and in-process testing (in-house microbiology labs) and compliance testing (regulatory testing / R&D); there are similarities and a few key differences between these two types of cannabis microbiology labs. Proper planning on your testing focus is the key to success.

Topics to Consider When Starting Your In-house or Compliance Lab 

cannabis microbiology testing lab compliance
Strategic Partnerships for Cannabis Testing Laboratories
Scientific Integrity in Cannabis Laboratory Testing
Best Practices for Starting a Cannabis Testing Laboratory
microbiology lab business plan and cost analysis

Setting Up an In-House Microbiology Lab

Just like a smoke detector provides an early warning for fires, an in-house microbiological lab provides early detection of microbial threats (pathogens, fungi, and contaminants), often too small to be discovered with the naked eye. An in-house lab will allow a cannabis company, like a cultivator, distributor, or a processor, to proactively test ingredients, components, and facility areas throughout the entire supply chain process. Each minute a biological contaminant, pathogen, or fungi such as Aspergillus goes undetected, the greater the potential cost to a business. Even though the costs of lost product and down-time are recoverable, the damage to brand reputation can be insurmountable.

Once a lab is properly set up and running, the in-house testing costs are negligible. Before long, these costs will be offset by increased profit associated with having increased quality products and a solid brand reputation. Prevention is key.

Setting Up a Compliance Microbiology Lab

Currently in the US, all legal cannabis products must pass state-mandated compliance testing through an independent lab. Compliance testing is endpoint testing; the gateway to the supply chain and is designed to assure cannabis products are safe for human consumption. The industry counts on compliance labs to provide scientific and accurate results and be highly efficient, allowing safe products to reach retailers as soon as possible. It’s crucial the labs are set-up to provide reliable results. This protects the consumer, the industry, and influences profitability.

Rapid microbiology methods create operational efficiencies supported by good science. Such optimization increases profitability and efficiency for compliance labs, while still safeguarding the quality of results for the industry.

While the cannabis industry is unique, there are many things in common with other industries to increase your brand protection, profitability, and drive a seamless supply chain. This is further covered in Lab Set-Up − Knowledge Impact.


“A little consideration makes all the difference.” – A. A. Milne


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

There’s a lot to consider when setting up a cannabis microbiology testing lab. By preparing and addressing all critical elements while using the resource of knowledgeable experts to your advantage, you can simplify the process. In the following sections, we dive deeper into each essential consideration listed above, giving you the tools you need to embark on your journey to create a cannabis microbiology testing lab.
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