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What is the difference between R&D and compliance testing?

Research and development (R&D) testing can be ordered by any company or individual interested in knowing what chemicals a cannabis material or product contains.  These results are only reported back to the company or individual.  R&D results cannot be released to a third party without express consent of the company or individual who ordered the test(s).  R&D tests are generally ordered during product development and/or production phases to assess the quality of those materials/products prior to release to the market.  As such, R&D test results are generally for internal use only by the ordering party.

Compliance testing is a battery of tests mandated by the state of California that includes both naturally occurring analytes (cannabinoids, terpenes, water) and chemical (heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents) and biological (E. coli, Salmonella, Aspergillus) contaminants.  Only licensed distributors are able to order compliance testing.  The state of California sets limits for both the level of THC per serving in a product as well as contaminants.  If any analyte tests above these thresholds, the product cannot be released for retail sale, and must be relabeled, remediated or destroyed.  Compliance testing results are delivered to both the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) and the distributor simultaneously.  Once a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is issued, it cannot be modified per state regulations.  Likewise, after the first CoA is issued, it is considered the final results for compliance testing of that lot of product and another CoA cannot be issued for that lot either from the same or a different lab.

What are the main reasons for performing R&D testing if it is not required by the state?

Companies may want to perform R&D testing for a multitude of reasons.  Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Ingredient Qualification -- to determine if input materials may contain unacceptable levels of contaminants which may cause the final product to fail compliance testing
  • Product Formulation -- to check the composition of different ingredient combinations when developing a new product and/or determine cannabinoid content per serving
  • Manufacturing Optimization -- to assess the effects of scaling up production on quality and consistency of product throughout the manufacturing process
  • Pre-Compliance -- mock compliance testing (including sampling) is performed identical to compliance testing, but results are not reported to state regulators; mock compliance testing from the same lab which will perform the compliance testing can ensure passing
  • Beyond Safety -- certify that a product exceeds the safety standards set by the state, including additional analytes not mandated and/or lower limits than permitted
  • Stability / Expiration -- determine the shelf-life of a product by conducting stability testing to determine expiration dates
Can we ship and/or drop-off our samples to the lab or will the lab send someone to pick them up from our facility?

For compliance testing, the lab must dispatch an employee in a lab-owned vehicle to perform the sampling procedure which is explicitly dictated by the state of California.  Compliance samples cannot be shipped or dropped off at the lab.  All compliance samples must be accompanied by a Chain of Custody form at all times.

For R&D testing, samples can be shipped or dropped off to the lab.  Note, the lab does not take responsibility for lost/confiscated shipments en route to its facility.  For a fee, clients can request pick-up of samples from their facilities.  All R&D samples must be accompanied by a Requisition Form in order to process those samples and report results back to the client.

How do I submit an order?
Pacific Star Labs utilizes Tagleaf as our Lab Information Management System (LIMS) which includes a customer portal for both placing orders and receiving Certificates of Analysis (COAs).  If you are already a Tagleaf user with another lab, you can simply add Pacific Star Labs in your existing account.  If you need a new Tagleaf account, please contact us at info@pacificstarlabs.com from the email you wish linked to your account and we will setup one for you.
How much sample do I need to submit for each test?
When placing your order online via Tagleaf it will indicate what quantity of sample is required for your submission.  In short, most tests require 2 grams of sample or more, with the exception of microbiology which requires 4 grams.  For compliance and mock-compliance, 15 grams or more is needed for most sample types (vape cartridges require more due to loss of sample during transfer).
When is payment due? How are payments accepted?
For one-off samples, payment is due prior to release of the Certificate of Analysis (COA).  For recurring customers, net 15 terms can be extended.  Acceptable payment methods include:  credit card, wire/ACH bank transfer, check and cash.
How will I receive the test results?
Certificates of Analysis (COAs) are released through your online customer portal (Tagleaf) in .pdf format.

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