General Information

California Cannabis Testing Regulations

By December 21, 2018 January 8th, 2019 No Comments

Medical cannabis has been legal in California for over 20 years. Recreational cannabis sales are booming in the state. Lawmakers have taken a great deal of time to make sure that the cannabis products being sold are clean and safe. California’s testing regulations are top notch and are some of the best in the country.

Batch Requirements

California regulators require that samples of each batch of cannabis or cannabis products are submitted for testing. Flower is measured in pounds. At least .35% of every batch has to be submitted for testing.

All other cannabis products are measured by unit.

California breaks batches down into increments. The number of increments varies depending on the type of product. Flower batches of 10-pounds are less are broken into 10 increments. Other cannabis product batches of 50 units or less are broken into 2 increments.

Cannabinoid Identification

California cannabis testing regulations require that laboratories test for specific cannabinoids. If additional cannabinoids are identified, they must also be included on the lab report. The state also requires that the concentration of each cannabinoid be noted.

The cannabinoids the state requires identification of include:

  • THC
  • THCA
  • CBD
  • CBDA
  • CBN
  • CBG

If the sample is dry flower, the concentration of cannabinoids must be determined by calculating dry-weight percentages. The moisture of the flower is also taken into consideration when the calculation is made.

For concentrates and other cannabis products, the concentration of cannabinoids is by milligrams per gram.

If a manufacturer or cultivator requests that the lab analyzes samples for additional cannabinoids, they can be looked for. If the requested cannabinoids are found in the product, they must be listed along with their concentrations.

All samples must pass lab testing before a product can be sold.

In manufactured cannabis products (vape, edibles, topicals, infusions, capsules, etc.) the THC concentration must not be more or less than 15-percent of what is listed on the label. Being more or less than the listed amount results in a failed test. The same rules apply for CBD products.

If a product says that it contains terpenes, the product must be tested to show the concentration and presence of those terpenes.

California Cannabis Testing Regulations Cannabinoids

Use of Solvents and Chemicals

California cannabis testing regulations do not include testing of dry flower, kief or products categorized as hashish to be tested for solvents or chemicals. Manufactured products such as vape, capsules, oils, edibles and tinctures must be tested for residual solvent and chemicals used in processing. All samples must be within what the state has deemed to be safe amounts of solvents and chemicals to be able to be sold.

Permissible Solvent Levels (ppm represents parts per million):

  • Dichloromethane – 2 ppm for medical cannabis and 5 ppm for all other cannabis products
  • Acetone – 750 ppm for medical and 5000 ppm for all other items
  • Acetonitrile – 60 ppm for medical and 410 ppm for all other cannabis products
  • Benzene – 1ppm for medical products and 2 ppm for additional cannabis products
  • Butane – 800 ppm for medical cannabis products and 5000 ppm for non-medical products
  • Chloroform – 2 ppm for medical cannabis and 60 ppm for non-medical
  • Ethanol – 1000 ppm on medical cannabis items and 5000 ppm for non-medical
  • Ethyl acetate – 400 ppm in medical cannabis products and 5000 ppm for non-medical
  • Ethyl ether – 500 ppm for medical cannabis and 5000 ppm for non-medical
  • Ethylene oxide – 5 ppm in medical cannabis products and 50 ppm for non-medical
  • Heptane – 50 ppm for medical cannabis and 5000 for non-medical
  • Hexane – 50 ppm in medical cannabis products and 290 ppm for non-medical products
  • Isopropyl alcohol – 500 ppm for medical cannabis and 5000 ppm for non-medicinal products
  • Methanol – 250 ppm in medical cannabis products and 3000 ppm for non-medical products
  • Methylene Chloride – 125 ppm medical, 600 ppm non-medical
  • Naphtha – 400 ppm medical, 400 non-medical
  • Pentane – 750 ppm for medical, 5000 for non-medical
  • Petroleum ether – 400 ppm in both medical and recreational products
  • Propane – 2100 ppm for medical and 5000 ppm for recreational
  • Trichloroethylene – 25 ppm for medical and 80 ppm for recreational
  • Toluene – 150 ppm for medical and 890 ppm for non-medical
  • All xylenes – 150 ppm for medical cannabis products and 2170 ppm for recreational products

If any solvents are outside of these maximum numbers, the laboratory must notify the manufacturer and proper authority. The product may not be sold.


When it comes to pesticides, all samples are tested. Flower is included in the testing of pesticides.

Levels must be lower than:

  • 026 ppm for oxamyl
  • 01 ppm for acetamiprid, aldicarb, azoxystrobin, bifenthrin, carbaryl, carbofuran, chlorfenapyr, cyfluthrin, daminozide, dimethoate, dimethomorph, ethropop, ethofenprox, fenoxycarb, fipronil, imazalil, malathion, metalaxyl, methiocarb, methomyl, methyl parathion, mevinphos, naled, paclobutrazol, spiroxamine, tebuconazole, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam
  • 02 ppm for abamectin, acephate, chlorantraniliprole, chlorpyrifos, DDVP, fludioxonil, imidacloprid, myclobutanil, propiconazole, propoxur,
  • 03 ppm for pentachloronitrobenzene
  • 12 ppm for phosmet
  • 25 for hexythiazox
  • 27 ppm for acequinocyl
  • 29 ppm for spinosad
  • 4 ppm for flonicamid
  • 46 ppm for etoxazole
  • 5 ppm for fenpyroximate, prallethrin, and spinetoram
  • 7 ppm for pyrethrins
  • 0 ppm for bifenazate, captan and cyermethrin
  • 3 ppm for clofentezine
  • 7 ppm for fenhexamid
  • 5 ppm for permethrin
  • 6 ppm for kresoxim-methyl
  • 4 ppm for pyridaben
  • 10 ppm for spirotetramet
  • 20 ppm for spiromesifen
  • 25 ppm for trifloxystrobin
  • 63 ppm for piperonyl butoxide

Samples that fail cannot be sold to medical cannabis patients or recreational cannabis customers.

Microbial Testing

Microbial testing is important. These impurities can cause illness as some are sensitive to microbes, bacteria, mold and mildew. The main microbes tested for are shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli and salmonella spp. Neither microbe can be detected at all in a 1-gram sample.

These microbes are mostly tested for in dry flower.

Labs also test for all aspergillus species. This includes fumigatus, flavus, niger and terreus.

None of these microbial impurities may be present in any medical cannabis product. Any amount of these impurities being present in any amount fails the sample and deems it unable to be sold.

If a lab detects any of these microbial impurities, it can test for additional microorganisms – especially if the manufacturer/producer requests it. This is where mold, mildew and bacteria would be tested for.

Additional Testing Requirements

California also tests cannabis samples for moisture content and water activity. Water activity levels cannot exceed 0.65 AW. Solid and semi-solid edibles are tested for water activity which cannot exceed 0.85 AW. Water activity and moisture levels are important factors in passing necessary purity tests.

When it comes to moisture levels, dry flower cannot have a moisture level below 5-percent or above 13-percent. A moisture level above 13-percent can make it more susceptible for mold, mildew and pest presence. Samples that fail can be eligible for a remediation process where the cultivator can submit the batch to additional curing and drying processes. New samples would need to be submitted and must be retested.

Filth and foreign materials – especially heavy metals may not be present in any products. These impurities include insects, manufacturing waste, byproducts, hair, insects and any packaging contaminants.

Closing Thoughts

The State of California takes providing clean cannabis and cannabis products to consumers very seriously. Most products have a one-opportunity to pass process. Dry flower can only be retested if it has to go through a second curing and drying period. Failed retesting deems the products unfit for sale. Penalties can be imposed for companies that attempt to sell products that fail testing. 

All of Canna Trading Co.’s products are tested for purity. 

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