Third-party testing is one of the most important steps in the process when it comes to manufacturing CBD and Delta 8 products. Not only is it key to test for potency, but also to make sure the product doesn’t have anything else in it that it shouldn’t… like mycotoxins, residual solvents, microbials, fertilizers, heavy metals, pesticides, or even Delta 9 THC (which is federally illegal above .3% concentration on manufactured hemp products).
And third-party testing is something we take very seriously at Apex Labs. We want to be sure we’re using only the highest quality isolates and distillates in every product that we make. So we partner with one of the premier testing facilities in the country, California Ag Labs. They specialize in cannabis and hemp testing and use some of the most cutting-edge techniques and equipment in the industry. They are passionate about all things hemp and cannabis. And they are committed to seeing the hemp industry succeed while pioneering rigorous standards and new methods of manufacturing.
But don’t just take our word for it. We sat down with Robert Myers and Seth Dixon, the co-owners of California Ag Labs, and wicked smart dudes to boot, to learn more about the testing process, as well as the regulations and standards in the industry. We also got to see why they’re so dang passionate about hemp and cannabis, and why they’re on a mission to elevate the industry.
Apex Labs: Robert, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Robert Meyers: I spent several years in the medical field, specifically focusing on medication and pain management. I also built and operated toxicology labs. And I made the switch the CBD and cannabis industry with the hopes of transforming the industry and bringing positive change.
Seth Dixon: I started my educational journey by working in the peptide purification industry synthesizing and purifying peptides for medical studies. Once I completed my Bachelor of Science degree, I continued on to graduate school where I studied drug discovery with funding through grants from institutions like the National Institutes of Health. After completing my Doctorate of Philosophy in Organic Chemistry, I moved into the cannabis industry with a heavy focus on product development to be able to help people better safely enjoy the wide variety of cannabis benefits.
AL: Robert, what inspired you to make the switch to the CBD industry?
Robert Meyers: So for me personally, I was in the toxicology business. And I worked in multiple states that focused on mitigation management with pain doctors. One of the things that really got me going is when you look at clinical studies, a placebo actually is about 50% successful day in and day out. But pharmaceutical drugs are only successful 10 to 15% of the time.
Why is that? How can nothing in your body be more effective than something in your body?
I realized that the placebo allows our bodies immunity to heal itself, just like the endocannabinoid system helps the body. Whereas the pharmaceutical medication is actually covering the issue up and telling your body, “you don't need to worry about yourself, we're going to take care of it.”
That’s when I started my venture. I wanted to find out more about how to heal the body naturally. Because we have an internal healing system, the endocannabinoid system, with receptors that are only activated through cannabis. No synthetic product that actually does anything to the endocannabinoid system.
AL: Why is research and development such an important part of your business? And not just sticking with testing?
Seth Dixon: We want to do anything we can to further the research. There are over 220 cannabinoids in the hemp plant. And now we’re five years into this market, and we can only identify eight majors and a few minor cannabinoids. That’s only 10% of the spectrum. Imagine what else we can discover with more research.
AL: Why are partnerships between CBD companies and testing facilities so important?
Robert Meyers: It’s a difficult challenge to find a combination of companies like you and testing facilities like us. There are plenty of companies out there that try to find partnerships, but can’t find support. We want to foster collaboration between the two groups, to build knowledge.
One of the big reasons we’re trying to do this kind of collaboration and research and discovery is for the Delta 10s in the world. It’s an amazing chemical, as is CBC. But being able to distinguish between them is crucial in developing quality products. Consumers need to trust they’re getting non-psychoactive products when they shop CBC.
AL: What kind of opportunities do you see in the future of the CBD industry?
Robert Meyers: For a long time, the cannabis industry was so focused on giving people flowers and smoke that they lost sight of the 80% of the people that don't smoke. Those people want the benefits of cannabis and hemp. One of our primary focuses has been on adult life. Everything that your team does to develop products, that's where our pipeline is. We want to get good healing to consumers. We want to help develop cannabis and hemp products that are excellent and quick and convenient.
AL: Some people bring up the point that regulations on cannabis are way more strict than that of FDA thresholds on food at the supermarket. Can you explain the differences?
Robert Meyers: Absolutely. One example is with metals. Cannabis tests for four different metals and it’s required on every product set for consumer use. The metals are arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead. These are all organic materials that are naturally found in the soil and water. The tolerance for cannabis is extremely low when it comes to these metals. It’s incredibly important that cannabis and hemp are not contaminated by these metals.
When the FDA does random tests based on suspicion of contamination, it’s usually because somebody got sick and reported it. Another example is that California requires testing of 66 pesticides on every batch of product sold in California. The FDA also does random testing on some products for pesticides, whereas FDA does spot-checking on random products.
AL: What are some of the dangers of poor product testing?
Robert Meyers: One example of this is CBC and Delta 10. CBC is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid whereas Delta 10 can actually get you high. They have remarkably similar chemical structures and if not properly tested, Delta 10 could be mistaken for CBC.
For example, if people are taking a CBD or CBC product, say for instance military personnel, take it believing it’s THC free. But they get tested and they test positive and it causes all sorts of issues. issues. All because it wasn't tested properly.
This happened a lot very early on, right when the farm bill passed. They had what they believed to be CBD products and they were all failing their tests. It perpetuated misinformation where people believed the CBD could change into THC inside you. But really they were just getting dirty products.
And then there are other issues like contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals that make testing so important. Some testing only focuses on potency, but purity is just as crucial.
This is just the first time that we’ll sit down and talk to California AG Labs about testing, purity, different cannabinoids, and so much more. Stay tuned for next time when we dive deep into chromatography.