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Cannabis science: Emerald Scientific creates industry benchmark



Proposition 64 may have legalized recreational marijuana, but there isn’t a universal quality assurance test that’s used by companies and individual labs across the industry. Well, San Luis Obispo-based company Emerald Scientific created such a test, and it looks at the concentration of THC, residual solvents, pesticides, and microbial activity within a product. 

Similar to food and pharmaceutical products that undergo testing before receiving FDA approval, the Emerald Test compares the results of cannabis samples from various labs to identify areas where products can be improved.

Ken Snoke, president of Emerald Scientific, said that with a growing industry comes a growing number of medical cannabis patients and recreational users, so it’s critical to have safe and quality products.

SAFETY:  The cannabis industry is growing, and Emerald Scientific believes that moving past the stigma associated with it depends on getting quality products and information out there. - PHOTO COURTESY OF EMERALD SCIENTIFIC
  • SAFETY: The cannabis industry is growing, and Emerald Scientific believes that moving past the stigma associated with it depends on getting quality products and information out there.

“We have a lot of cancer patients whose immune systems are suppressed and the last thing we want is for a product to have residual solvents that could harm them,” Snoke said. 

The Emerald Test is one of the first nationwide ILC/PT (inter-laboratory comparison and proficiency testing) programs within the industry. He said the test is not only designed to accurately read the potency of cannabis—to identify dosage level and fair pricing—but also for safety. The test can demonstrate if there are any traces of pesticide, mold, or residual solvents. For an industry that is under a lot of scrutiny to grow responsibly, Snoke said, companies, individuals, and laboratories need to have accurate information for their consumers and a way to hold operators accountable for acceptable performance. 

“Without accuracy and some type of safety parameters of cannabis, you really start to see how misleading information can create stigma and prohibition,” he said. 

The goal of the test is to create a foundation for all growers and dispensaries to abide by and create a quality product for consumers. The test was administered twice, once in the spring and fall, last year with voluntary participants submitting their cannabis samples. The results of the data and how to interpret it will be discussed at the third annual Emerald Conference: Exploring the Science of Cannabis. 

The conference will take place on Feb. 2 and 3 in San Diego at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina. Snoke said the conference is very tight knit, and it focuses on the science and analysis of cannabis products. He’s anticipating that about 300 to 400 people will attend. The conference will explore analytical testing, cannabinoid extraction, and basic research labs, dispensaries, producers, and policymakers in the cannabis industry. Snoke said it all comes back to how the industry can have a safe and high-quality product, how various lab tests differ, what testing methods are out there, and how to interpret test results moving forward. 

For more information about Emerald Scientific and The Emerald Test, visit

Fast Facts

The Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa will host its annual Valentine’s Weekend Fundraising Concert at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. Comedian Brian Regan will headline the fundraiser; tickets range from $50 to $90. For ticket information, visit the or call 756-4846.

In anticipation of continuous rainy weather, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO) is asking for donations of food and supplies as well as volunteers for the warming center hosted at Prado Day Center on 43 Prado Road in San Luis Obispo. For more information, visit

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send story ideas to

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