Cannabis testing laboratories provide a wide range of analytical services, including potency testing, pesticide testing, terpene profiling, and more. By nature of the product, they also face unique challenges compared to other types of laboratories. Regulation pertaining to cultivation and processing differs between states, and it can be difficult to secure funding through traditional avenues. For new laboratories, the cost of equipment can also be prohibitive. Sourcing pre-owned analytical instruments is an excellent way to stretch limited budgets and get operations underway.
“A cannabis lab needs to acquire a diverse set of laboratory equipment in order to comprehensively test cannabis,” explains Ceylan Bilgin, director of marketing at International Equipment Trading Ltd. (IET).
However, “because budgets are always a consideration, finding alternative ways to source technology for a lab [is] extremely helpful to new ventures—including buying used, refurbished, or renting equipment,” says Clair Bragg, CEO of GenTech Scientific Inc.
Used or refurbished?
With an abundance of pre-owned equipment on the market, it can be challenging to identify the best option. Understanding the difference between “used” and “refurbished” equipment is important for purchasing decisions.
Used equipment can often be purchased at a much lower cost compared to new. However, both Bragg and Bilgin recommend exercising caution when purchasing used instruments. “Purchasing used equipment that has not been refurbished and qualified might appear to be the least expensive option upfront, but will run the risk of not meeting manufacturer’s specifications, which will cost time and money to resolve before testing can begin or resume,” explains Bilgin.
According to Bragg, “used equipment offers start-ups a safe and affordable way to obtain their instrumentation at a fraction of the cost. However, it is important to remember that repairs down the road can be costly.”
Alternatively, refurbished equipment offers additional quality assurance, as instruments are repaired and tested prior to resale. “Refurbished equipment offers the best of both worlds, providing like-new equipment at a fraction of the cost,” says Bragg. “Even if an issue comes up, most refurbished instruments come with a warranty, so the lab would not incur additional out-of-pocket repair costs,” explains Bilgin.
Other important details
One of the best ways to ensure equipment has been tested, and is in good working condition, is to choose a reliable vendor.
According to Bragg, “when choosing a cannabis lab supplier, it’s important to ask questions. How reputable is the vendor? What type of service and support do they provide? Do they include warranty coverage and what are the costs? Do they offer installation and training for my team?”
Bilgin recommends “requesting customer references from vendors and specifically checking that warranties are not just stated, but also honored.”
It can also be valuable to inquire about financing options, “especially for labs with budget constraints,” notes Bragg.
“Inquire about financing as it relates to cannabis testing business in particular and also whether lease or lease-to-own options can be paid off early without penalties,” says Bilgin.
Purchasing decisions have important implications for the future success of the laboratory. “It’s important to choose a supplier that will be a true service partner for the life of the equipment, and beyond,” says Bragg. With the ongoing growth and evolution of the industry, Bilgin recommends “purchasing an instrument that not just meets, but exceeds current testing guidelines to stay ahead of the curve.”