The CEO of Digipath Labs, Todd Denkin, recently appeared on the CannaCon podcast to discuss cannabis lab testing in Nevada. CannaCon was one of the first B2B cannabis conventions and travels around the country to medical and recreational marijuana states from coast-to-coast throughout the year. Based in Washington, the first state to legalize adult-use marijuana, the host of the CannaCon podcast, Nick, was excited to interview the CEO of the leading lab testing facility in Las Vegas.
High End Cannabis Lab Testing with Todd Denkin
Nick: Welcome to CannaCon radio where the cannabis industry talks business. You guys can hear us everywhere you find podcasts, iTunes, SoundCloud even Spotify. We really want to hear from you so please Like, Subscribe, Comment. You can also find us on our social media, the easiets way to do that is to hit us up on our website, CannaCon.org. There you are going to see links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. So, we want to hear from you. Let’s get to the show.
Nick: And, today we got on the phone with us Todd Denkin. Todd, how is it going?
Todd Denkin: Really well, thanks!
Nick: Go ahead and tell us a little bit about your company?
Todd Denkin: Sure, Digipath Inc. is a publicly traded company, our stock symbol is DIGP. We are a cannabis data company and independent cannabis testing firm. We support the cannabis industry’s best practices for reliable testing, data acquisition and analysis. We are also in the formulation business where we take a lot of the data we acquire from doing all these tests and then develop certain formulas for different industries. We feel like the data we collect from the tests that we run overtime will be really valuable and really help change the way and provide new information for new products that will come onto the cannabis market in the next several years.
Nick: What kind of data are we talking about?
Todd Denkin: Well the data we collect, when we do a test, especially here in Nevada, there are 21 different data points that we collect based on the cannabinoid profiling and the terpene profiling. We test for 11 different cannabinoids and 22 terpenes. All of this data starts to tell a story once you have a lot of it in place and a lot of it to analyze.
Nick: That’s really interesting. Is that a test that is required in Nevada? Can you give us an idea of what is required for testing and what maybe something that people get a lot of that isn’t required?
Todd Denkin: Sure, absolutely. So in Nevada, which is a very strict cannabis testing state, it does have the most stringent testing in the nation. We test for 11 different cannabinoids even though the state says we only have to test for 4. But, we give it a complete cannabinoid profile because all of that information is available so we think it is important to get that information to the consumer and to the patient especially. We also test for 22 different terpenes and the state says we only have to test for 9. But again, the more information the better. We also give every product a foreign matter inspection under a microscope. We check the moisture content. We check for the residual solvents if it is on an extract that is not made with CO2. We test for pesticide residue. We test for heavy metals. We do a very intense microbial screening along with mycotoxin screening. And again, give it the potency both cannabinoids and terpenes. So, it is a very intense screen. So, if you are buying any kind of cannabis product in Nevada you know that it is clean and safe for consumption.
Nick: You know, that’s really great because in Washington we have to test for substantially less than that. And sadly, as we have kind of learned over the last 2 years of legalization, is that terpene profiles are really important especially as understanding how that medicine might affect you. Right?
Todd Denkin: Oh, 100%.
Nick: That’s great that you guys are testing above and beyond for that than what the state requires. You said 22 and the state only requires 9. I mean that just gives us a really really good idea of what we are really going to be able to feel from that specific strain or edible. So, that was one of the things that you didn’t mention. Do you also test edibles? Is there a way to do that?
Todd Denkin: Oh yeah, we definitely test edibles, we test extracts, we test lotions and potions and pills. Any product that is made with any version of cannabis, THC or CBD or even hemp. We test all of those products and sometimes multiple times. For instance, if you have your trim and you want to sell you trim to somebody who is going to go create extracts, well the trim has to be tested before it’s sold. And then when the extract is made…
Todd Denkin: Yeah, and then when the extract is made, then the extract has to be tested to ensure that is what the producer is saying that it is. Then, if you take that extract and you make it into something else, like if you when you put an oil into a lotion or into an edible, then that final product would have to be tested again to make sure you are doing everything that you claim that you are doing. And, to make sure that along the way you didn’t contaminate it either with human intervention or with product that has been maybe been sitting on the shelf too long.
Nick: It really seems like the consumer is in a really good place in Nevada with these testing, I guess you could call them policies or laws or whatever you want to say.
Todd Denkin: Oh yeah, they are definitely regulations. And, you are right this is definitely customer friendly and certainly consumer friendly and definitely, you know this started off as a medical marijauna marketplace. So, definitely friendly to the patient’s’ needs. It is definitely very important to make sure that everything that all of the producers and cultivators are doing is tested to make sure it is what it is.
Todd Denkin: If you think about it, every other industry in the world is regulated from milk to the gasoline you put into your car. Right?
Todd Denkin: The tester has to have certain standards before we pour milk on our Cheerios in the morning and even gasoline and oil and all of that stuff has to have X amount of whatever in order to pass a safety test so it doesn’t harm people. The same is true of cannabis and cannabis products. The problem is that, you know, you are talking about it, Washington is different from Oregon, different from Colorado, different from Nevada, different from Michigan, different from Arizona and so.
Todd Denkin: We really fight for standardizing all of these things because it’s important. Why should something not be tested in Washington but it’s tested in Nevada. It’s silliness.
Nick: It is silly because if this is a legal state or if we go from a state that is legal like Nevada is and then we fly to a state like Washington that is legal, our experience as a consumer or as a patient should be identical. Right? But it’s not! And, we were talking to a lot of people in Oklahoma City, we were just there. We talked to a few labs actually. So, let me ask you, we talked to them a lot about percentages of THC and how, I have been around since the medical days and I remember when we started testing a lot of medical cannabis in Washington, and we did it because it made it, honestly, it made it a lot easier to sell. Especially if you had it tested, and you were a dispensary and you could show this test, it gave you a leg up on your competition. I remember very distinctly the month that we became a legal state THC percentage spiked in flower and concentrates and everything. I was asking some of the laboratories that we talked to on the podcast in Oklahoma and a couple of them told us that they had never tested anything that was truly above 30% THS in flower. So I wanted to talk to you about that.
Todd Denkin: Sure, we live in a very progressive state, so all of the biggest and best and brightest move to Nevada in order to participate in this marketplace. You know the cultivations that are built here in Nevada are really super high end, very expensive to operate. So, I wanted to preface what I am about to say with that because some of the greatest innovation in growing technology is happening right here in Nevada. You still need good genetics, you still need a good clean grow room, you still need NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and you still need the right amount of sunlight and the right amount of darkness. Right?
Todd Denkin: So, what I always say is that if all of those things are important, good genetics, good environments, good people around, cleanliness, but then you need the ability to maximize your grow space. Can you really create 24 hours of what a plant needs for a whole 120 day cycle? Who can do that the best?
Nick: Who can do that the best. Yep, and the most consistently from year-to-year.
Todd Denkin: Consistency is important too, because lights go out and water hoses break and sometimes crops get infected and sometimes things happen because they’re plants. Even though you have to treat it like its industrial agriculture, it’s still agriculture. Some won’t grow, some will grow, some with thrive, some will die. In Nevada because of all of those great things and becasue of the really good growing environments and because of the race to have the best of the best, there is a bit of a THC war here in Nevada where the high THC plants demand the high prices. Overtime, we believe that when people learn about the terpenes and terpene profiling which is what really separates the plants, differentiate the plants. We have seen very high levels of THC with some crops consistently in the mid 30’s. That’s all THCA, you know and that decarboxylates down to, you lose about 13% on the conversion. But, still a plant with what we measure, we have seen as high as 37% THCA with some strains and others consistently at the 30-31-32% range. But, overall the average in Nevada is about 22 to 24% THCA.
Nick: Can you imagine if in the ‘60’s you had 22 – 24% THC in cannabis, it would be a totally different world today.
Todd Denkin: Well over the years the goal has been to breed this plant, to deliver the THC molecule at its best and most abundant. That’s why finding a true sativa is very difficult, because over the last 50, 60, 80 years the sative gene has been bred out of most plants unless you are getting something directly from Afghanistan. Or you have controlled your seeds for a very long time. Most everything that’s out there is a hybrid and most everything leans towards an indica because of the breeding and because of the high THC demands. We see that changing overtime.
Nick: Yeah, it’s easier to grow. If it’s for the grower, it’s about making money. Indicas are just easier to grow. They produce bigger, they are 2-3 weeks shorter on flower time. Over a few years, you can do 15, 20, 30 more crops and then you are making a few million a crop, that’s a lot more money to make than to grow a sativa. And, if not everything works out, and we know that it doesn’t, then you are losing more crops when you are growing sativas. I can understand why it would eventually go that way especially as it becomes a large agricultural cash crop, not just something that we were hiding and growing in garages and things of that nature.
Nick: Well Todd, I really appreciate you coming on today, this was a great conversation. I;ve never really got to talk or really understand what’s going on in Nevada and you really painted a great picture. It seems like you guys could definitely be leading the way at the forefront of this new cannabis industry where technology is at the forefront which we have been preaching here for a while now.
That’s exactly right. We consider ourselves right at the forefront of the cannatech industry. We are creating new technologies to develop new data, to develop good products overtime. It’s a good time to be in the space, for sure.
Nick: Well again, Thank you so very much from coming on and have a great day.
Todd Denkin: Alright, you too, thank you.