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Steep Hill Labs: Pioneers in Medical Cannabis Testing

Steep Hill Labs Cannabis Now Magazine
Photo by Gracie Malley

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Steep Hill Labs: Pioneers in Medical Cannabis Testing

As an industry, cannabis lab testing is relatively new, but has long been an essential and missing piece to legal distribution, research and product development.

Inside the Oakland, California headquarters of Steep Hill Halent Inc. technicians are processing a wide range of legal cannabis product samples — everything from flowers (buds), butter, hashes, waxes and shatters to tinctures and oils. The lab is sleek, clean, modern and professional, if you didn’t know what was being tested, perhaps the only tip off would be the lab director’s tie-dyed lab coat. But don’t let the ‘Dead nod throw you, this lab is staffed by qualified trained scientists, all excited to work at the forefront of the legal testing industry.

“I was inspired by the industry since I was in college,” says lab technician Anthony Torres, who studied microbiology at the University of San Francisco. “I started hearing about the research coming out about cannabis, specifically the studies about the anti-cancer effects of it. That inspired me. It’s an entirely new industry I wanted to be a part of.”

Today, cannabis testing labs do more than ensure cannabis is clean, they measure the cannabinoid levels (potency) as well as identify and track other trends in the medical, and now recreational, cannabis consumer market.

Prior to medical and recreational cannabis legalization laws, users traditionally had to trust in the integrity of their source, but a legal market can’t operate on blind faith. Today, research coming out of cannabis testing labs drives consumer demand for more scientific testing in the products for purchase, improving the overall quality and consistency of  cannabis products available for sale in legal states.

Everything from bugs, pesticides, molds, bacteria and fungi to chemical additives that increase weight, smell or stickiness can be found on black market cannabis, but lab testing has become so ubiquitous in regulated legal markets that the bad bud is getting much harder to find.

In 2008, Steep Hill Halent Labs became the first consumer cannabis-testing lab in the nation. David Lampach and Addison Demoura founded Steep Hill in conjunction with Steve DeAngelo, owner and operator of Harborside Health Center, in order to provide lab-testing services specifically for the legal cannabis industry. Harborside had reached out to “straight labs” but couldn’t find a single one that was willing to test cannabis for the consumer market, and so Steep Hill was born.

As Harborside Health Center and Steep Hill grew together, they have driven some of the most significant developments in testing methodologies for cannabis testing.

They also work with state regulators around the country to create legislation surrounding cannabis testing for the legal industry. Not only have they set the industry standards, but they continue to be at the forefront of medical cannabis research and can even be credited with rediscovering CBD, specifically the medical benefits it provides.

Lampach says he believes that testing of a wide variety of consumer products, not just cannabis, will become more ubiquitous in time.

“I think we should test everything as much as possible. Testing in our society has become pretty cheap for all things, the costs of this stuff is way down compared to what it used to be,” he said. “In general, the world going forward will be a place where we test more.”

Lampach helped design legal cannabis testing regulations in Washington and Colorado. In those states, cannabis is tested after as it is harvested and packaged for sale. If the flowers (buds) are then processed into an infused product, the extraction used to infuse products is also tested.

As the world of cannabis lab testing continues to evolve alongside state laws, labs like Steep Hill will continue to shape the cannabis industry, which Lampach says is far more detailed than most consumer industries.

“Cannabis will ultimately become the most tested product on earth,” says Lampach.

Originally published in issue 11 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. valdirty

    May 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Addison Demoura is a crook and conartist from Massachusetts who has absolutely no certification or education in laboratory science. He’s just a weasel who conned his way into Harborside. His wife is also a known prostitute in Modesto, CA. She actually was hired by Scott Peterson for an outcall.

  2. matthe walker

    March 10, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Maybe you can help me,. I live in north Carolina my wife has stage 3 cancer and is there any oils,that we can order to help her with the pain and maybe feel good to eat,food
    They just gave her 6 month’s to live maybe,you can give me info that I can call and order something that can help her out thank you

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      March 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Sorry to hear about your wife’s diagnosis. I strongly recommend against calling anyone to “order” cannabis products. It remains a violation of strict federal “marihuana” law to transport such products across state lines. The fastest and least expensive way for you to help her, though by far the most risky, is to break North Carolina’s tyrannical “marihuana” law and (very discreetly!) find a local dealer of cannabis flowers. A typical ounce goes for between $250 and $400 at current black market prices. If your wife does not like to smoke or vaporize such flowers, then you can grind up 1 ounce to make your own homemade “canna butter” (there are recipes on the Cannabis Now website or plenty of sites elsewhere online). You can utilize canna butter to make cookies, brownies or an assortment of other baked goods for perfectly safe consumption as edibles. It takes up to 2 hours for the effects of “medicated” foods to set in, but they last for much longer than smoking or vaporizing. Your wife will probably notice dramatic improvement from her first helping.
      Cancer is a scourge that we can go a long way toward defeating with cannabis. Six years ago, I watched my father pass from cancer—and the whole experience sucked even worse because he lived in a state, like North Carolina, that coldly deprived him of safe and legal access to cannabis flowers.

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