It is undeniable that cannabis production, engineering and consumption have all had exponential developments over the last decade. Nowadays, people can find endless amounts of strains, as well as a wide variety of products derived from them. Because of such rapid growth, testing, classifying and regulating cannabis in all of its forms, has become of paramount importance for those in charge of developing and selling marijuana.

However, such regulations are of interest not only to growers, manufacturers or distributors. Thanks to the relentless widespread of social media, even occasional users are now becoming more knowledgeable about virtually anything related to the world of cannabis. The general marijuana consumer currently deals with ten times more information and products than just half a decade ago. 

Additionally, the fact that cannabis has become legal or depenalized in certain important places (including none other than the capital state of The United States of North America), has certainly helped change the general perspective on cannabis worldwide.

Once again, California is in charge of leading the way when it comes to promoting marijuana awareness in the United States and the rest of the world for that matter. The Bureau of Cannabis Consumption (BCC), in compliance with the State of California and the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), issued a cannabis research policy known as the California Testing or "CAT". A series of mandatory quality tests to be performed on medical/recreational cannabis.

All three organizations agreed this process should not be rushed through. Therefore, it was decided that testing was to be phased in. Analysis is to be spread throughout 3 consecutive periods of six months each. According to title 16 of the California Code of Regulations, section 5715, and the regulations that follow: All cannabis harvested on or after 1/1/2018 and all cannabis products manufactured on or after 1/1/2018 shall be properly tested.

One of the main intentions of performing such a deep investigation is to help regulate cannabis, while maximizing its properties and benefits. Another important goal from this extensive case study is for suppliers to have a larger variety of products, with a much higher certified quality and better informed costumers.

The California Testing consists of three different phases or stages. Below is a list of the different analysis that will be phased-in over their respective periods. All requirements from the previous phase must be included in each new period:
At the moment of the making of this article, the first two phases had almost gone completely by. As you can tell from the chart, the most extensive part of the testing has already taken place. From consistency to purity, many variables regarding cannabis and it’s derivates have been thoroughly analyzed by certified third parties, in order to provide unbiased results. 

However, the third stage of the California Testing will start being implemented by the end of 2018. This period is equally important as the previous ones, with the exception that it represents the final phase of the testing and regulating process.

CAT 3 stage consists of different tests performed directly on cannabis or cannabis products, depending on the case. Mycotoxins testing to certify the absence of mold, heavy metals testing to check for environmental pollutants, and water testing of solid or semi-solid edibles, which also focuses on health issues like the majority of the tests in all of the three CAT phases.

What seems to be quite interesting about CAT 3 in particular, is the fact that it will examine Terpenoids/Terpenes. Terpenoid testing will be performed to certify the Terpene concentration in a product matches and does not exceed the amount stated by the manufacturer on the label, by plus or minus 10%. This will allow a more precise look into those critical components in cannabis´ psychoactive and essential properties. 

These variables had not been addressed since the very first of all CAT tests, where they analyzed the type and amount of cannabinoids present in consumables. However, none of the nine tests that followed, considered the issue again. Fortunately, all that will have changed by December 31st, 2018.

Knowing the real concentration of terpenoids in any given cannabis consumable, has become more than necessary since the discovery of their properties not too long ago. Terpenes play such a significant role in the enjoyment of recreational and medical marijuana that they deserve a whole article of their own, which in fact has already been written. It will be released as a follow up to this publication, just days before the last stage of the California Testing process (CAT 3) starts. 

Together with the conclusion of CAT 3, the greatest set of regulations on cannabis in the United States will have been implemented by the first half of 2019.  In order to bring about a more efficient and reliable line of products than can benefit the consumer to the fullest, guidelines and policies must be issued for suppliers and customers to abide by. (For the complete 152-page set of regulations per the California Bureau of Cannabis Control visit: https://www.bcc.ca.gov/law_regs/cannabis_text.pdf / for those of you who are just interested in laboratory regulations, go straight to Chapter 6- Testing Laboratories).

CAT 3 phase will finalize a certified third party cannabis lab testing process, which is sanctioned by the corresponding authorities in the State of California. This kind of evaluation will be required for all cannabis products sold commercially in the future. Nevertheless, this issue should not be seen as the end of the matter, nor should it focus on a single state as California´s cannabis production and regulations have an outstanding reach, inside and out of The United States. The upcoming creation of new techniques and advancements regarding marijuana engineering, will unavoidably call for higher quality standards and policies around the world.

Since becoming the first state in the U.S. to legalize the medical use of marijuana, after voters approved Proposition 215 on November 5th, 1996; California has certainly paved the cannabis road for many other states, as well as for foreign nations in the region. Due to the active participation of the state of California, together with independent entities; analyzing, classifying, and regulating cannabis (as a plant or in its processed state), will facilitate the safe and efficient development/distribution of marijuana.

What could be more ideal than the right goods reaching the hands of the right consumers? It’s a win-win situation for everyone. People are willing to pay good money for a product that (apart from being reliable and regulated) actually benefits them, while they get to enjoy themselves at the same time. Then, manufacturers can invest some of their profit into research, thus creating an unstoppable cycle of general growth and wellness for anyone involved in any part of the process.

It sure is “a breath of fresh herb” to see that health and sanitary issues are not the only focus of these tests. Enjoyment of cannabis is what initially drove us to discovering its medical and practical properties, and that should always be a part of every marijuana related matter.

Felipe Caballero