This here is a great bridge I’ve got for sale. On the other side is legalized cannabis! Credit: David Martin / Unsplash

If you’re surprised the SAFE Banking Act was stripped yesterday from the federal defense bill before it passed the U.S. House, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Yesterday’s action is just one more indication that America’s fast-growing cannabis industry is likely to be on it’s own for a while – and we need to make sure our own house in order to get through it.

Like practically everything else, cannabis is increasingly a politicized concept, where conservatives are concerned it’s an encroachment on morality. Some of those conservatives might vote for Democrats under the right circumstances, so why should a Democratic Congress support cannabis legalization when it’s got so many bigger issues on its plate like climate, immigration, the economy, and so on.

For a member of Congress to pick a fight by legalizing cannabis is just bad business. We should expect legalization or banking improvements to be ignored until some much, further date.

Meanwhile, cannabis has got a problem with testing, the kind of yawn-inducing issue that actually matters more than you’d think.

Reliable, high quality, speedy testing is the bedrock for the cannabis industry’s credibility. If you can’t rely on it, what separates legal weed from underground product from Mexico? Michigan’s massive recall last week, as well as Ohio’s big recall yesterday – which our Deborah Bayliss will be reporting on tomorrow morning – suggests that maybe there’s more problems with product testing than we’d originally thought. But put a pin in that, because there’s another, darker possibility to consider.

High quality testing – similar, but not the same as reliable – is another issue. I’ve talked to dozens of operators from the Midwest to New England who say they’ve cycled through testing companies, sometimes working with more than one at a time, in a constant effort to find a tester they think brings back consistent results. It’s possible that some operators are just hunting for a lab that will skew the results in a direction they like, say with higher THC readings, but the number of stories I hear about people jumping from one tester to another suggests there’s something bigger going on here. 

Speedy testing is another big issue. How do you get both high quality results and speedy ones at the same time?

Many labs tell me they can turn things around in a week. That means hundreds of thousands of dollars of products sit on a shelf for any one cultivator at a time. If you can shrink that turn around time, you’re literally creating money for a cultivator.

Recently in Massachusetts, there was a shortage of testing facilities, sometimes creating 45-day backups, our Zack Huffman recently reported. 

“A nightmare,” is how one operator I talked to characterized it.

Since cannabis is not going to get any federal help, we need to make sure there’s no challenge to credibility. The first step would be to prioritize excellent testing everywhere, all the time.


Editor Mike is a co-founder and the editor of Grown In, a U.S. national cannabis industry newsletter and training company. His career has taken him from Capitol Hill to Chicago City Hall, from...