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Tue Aug 31 2021 08:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Top cannabis testing lab does way more than pass/fail clients

4 min

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With Michigan’s recreational cannabis industry only recently becoming legal and regulated, the prevailing safety and quality standards remain in flux. Even among the state’s most experienced growers and processors, such as the vertically integrated Exclusive Brands, there has been an ongoing learning curve.

Fortunately, the pioneering cannabusiness has built a strong relationship with its testing lab, PSI Labs.

When certain batches started showing elevated microbial counts, for example, PSI Labs worked with Exclusive to figure out why, so that the problem could be quickly resolved. When there was a nationwide vaping scare related to cannabis oil, PSI Labs confirmed that the distillates and terpenes in Exclusive vape pens were safe – free from the harmful additive, Vitamin E Acetate. And when Exclusive launches new products, as it’s doing this month with a line of Neno’s Naturals, insight from PSI Labs helps ensure the formulations and end products are perfect.

“Working with PSI so closely has really allowed us to have this assurance that the products we’re putting out are of the highest-quality, the highest-caliber," said Narmin Jarrous, chief development officer for Exclusive Brands, which two years ago became Michigan’s first-ever applicant for a recreational cannabis license and now has dispensaries in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Muskegon.

“We have the science to back it up, too.”

As a Safety Compliance Facility, the primary job of PSI Labs is to ensure that cannabis products meet state safety standards before becoming available to the public. So, if a tested sample shows mold or powdery mildew, for example, PSI Labs has to deliver the bad news to the client that their product does not meet the state’s compliance criteria.

This can be a challenging message to deliver, and it’s why PSI goes the extra mile to work with clients and help them troubleshoot the problem. This collaborative approach can help square away minor internal process issues or even identify more serious environmental contamination that could impact future batches as well.

That laboratory expertise is also helpful when cannabusinesses such as Exclusive Brands are optimizing products or doing research and development on new innovations.

“That’s an area where we really excel and stand out because we have a lot of talent here, Ph.D.s and master’s in their various fields, and we’re happy to bring them on site to help consult and do boundary-pushing development of methods that people are working on,” said Lev Spivak-Birndorf, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder of PSI Labs.

For example, PSI Labs has helped Exclusive Brands calibrate its own internal lab to support R&D, allowing them to fine-tune new products and know they’re within an acceptable range before sending samples off for compliance testing. This process and extra effort on the front end provides a much greater level of control for PSI’s clients and provides a much better grasp on where their results should land and their areas of highest risk.

That has provided a significant advantage for Exclusive Brands in creating Neno’s Naturals, which includes a 3-to-1 capsule that “is a real tough make” with miniscule potency variances, said Mark Micallef, Director of Ops for Exclusive Brands.

“We’re able to pinpoint our accuracy in house while we’re actually manufacturing products, before we send them over for a compliance test and get unpleasantly surprised,” he said. “That saves us considerable time and money.

“There’s certainly a lot of options in regard to testing, none of which have ever been even close to the quality of PSI. And they’ve helped get our standards up to their standards.”

At the end of the day, third-party independent labs like PSI exist to ensure that cannabis products meet state regulations and are safe for end consumers, whether they’re medical marijuana patients or adult-use customers. At the same time, partnering with a high-quality lab helps cannabis growers and processors produce safe cannabis efficiently, with minimal waste of energy and expense.

Cannabusinesses should know that not all Safety Compliance Facilities are created equal. Because the cannabis sector in Michigan is still a new industry, there is an unfortunate level of variability in testing processes and lab procedures. And that results in varying levels of accuracy and quality.

If the potency of Exclusive’s new Neno’s Naturals is off, for example, it could have serious implications for the end consumer. That’s why accuracy and transparency in testing is so vital.

“Whenever you’re dealing with people’s sensitive health issues, you want to be 100% on top of your game,” Jarrous said. “We’ve been working very closely with PSI to ensure our products (all contain the right amount of cannabis), and our patients and customers are going to have the best experience with that brand.

“We want to make sure all these products are perfect, and we really couldn’t do it without the insight from PSI. They’re helping us get clean, safe cannabis on the market.”


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