As home growers continue to increase across Canada many are turning to Canada’s analytical testing labs to give them an understanding of what is in their cannabis.
From personal cannabis growers curious about how much THC or CBD they managed to coax from their plants, to those who want a detailed understanding of full cannabinoid and terpene profiles, along with heavy metal, pesticides and microbial testing, there are an array of labs offering these services. StratCann spoke with just a few below to get a sense of costs and services available.
One lab offering such services, Canvas Labs, in Vancouver, BC, says they see about half of their current business coming from either home growers or personal or designated medical growers, with the other half coming from commercial producers.
For those casual home growers, explains Jean-Michel Dentinger, a Manager at Canvas Labs, they can offer basic cannabinoid testing for as little as about $60, requiring only about one gram of dried cannabis. The cannabis can be mailed in a simple, airtight container through Canada Post, getting results back in about three days after the product arrives at the lab.
Although a larger sample can provide a better representation of a larger crop, Dentinger says many growers just want a basic idea of how much THC may be in their product. For those who are looking for a more accurate and representative testing result, they can then produce larger samples.
“If the grower is not too concerned about the consistency across their crop and they believe that just a small sample is representational of their whole batch, it really only takes about a gram of flower per test to run the analysis,” explains Dentinger. “(This) is in contrast with a LP who really needs to know the characteristics or potency of their crops across their operation.”
Demand is high, he says.
“It definitely seems to be something people like to use. We try to make it easy for individuals to access the service and make it affordable, because information is valuable and it’s good for them to know what they’re doing and improve.”
Keystone Labs, in Alberta, is another lab offering testing services for commercial and home growers. Keystone has been offering analytical testing services for cannabis since 2015, even developing a specialized Keybox service for home growers, focussing at the time on the personal and designated medical growers, and now offering those services for non medical growers, as well.
Keystone’s Keybox service for about $170, providing analyses for an array of cannabinoids and terpenes, with a small amount of cannabis required, which can be partially prepared by the home grower before sending it in for analysis. For growers only interested in THC and CBD levels, they offer a similar test for about $125, that requires about three grams of cannabis.
Whereas the Keybox gives a wider array of results and gives the grower more control over the sample preparation, growers who are just looking for their THC and CBD levels and don’t want to bother with preparing their own sample can just send in a few grams via Canada Post.
“Patient or home growers can get their home grown bud tested with us a couple of different ways,” says Stephanie Ostrander, an Account Manager at Keystone Labs. “We will definitely point them to the Keybox website, and that gives you analysis for ten cannabinoids and thirty terpenes. And that bang for the buck is probably the best one. Then the next option is to just send your bud to us so that you don’t have to do the sample preparation.”
Turnaround, says Ostrander, is about a week, depending on what they are testing for and the sample size. For additional tests such as microbials, the test is around $155, heavy metals about $100, and pesticides can be upwards of $800, and can require a much larger sample size.
A third lab offering these services for home growers, Pathogenia Inc. in Quebec, says they have seen a real increase lately in requests from home growers, either looking for services, or simply trying to better understand how the process works and what types of equipment is used to get these results.
Prasant Prusty, the company’s co-founder, says the bulk of their business is currently commercial growers, but that he routinely fields calls from home growers, as well. Like Keystone and Canvas, they require only a few grams of cannabis for each test, and Prusty says he’s happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
“We are always happy to answer those questions for the home growers, and happy to share our methods and how the testing works,” says Prusty. “We really want to make a difference in the testing domain, and feel we can really help home growers not only with testing results, but with understanding the process and methods we use and why.”
Basic THC and CBD testing is about $150 and requires about three grams of cannabis, he says, although he points out the larger the sample the more representative and accurate the results will be. Like the other labs, clients can log into an online platform to read their results in about a weeks’ time, depending on the size and scope of their request. A pesticide array is around $300, testing for microbials around $150 and heavy metals around $100.
“If you’re looking for a certificate of analysis, we’re not that kind of lab” explains Prusty. “But if you’re looking for what’s there, we are the kind of lab who can help you make sure that you understand what you are looking for.”