Marelius and Swider warn consumers of cannabis products to be wary of packaging. The products with the highest cannabis content and fewest impurities, like pesticides and metals, sell best. So, producers will work with the labs that give them the best numbers for sales. Labs know this, and many smudge numbers to keep producers coming back. As the Infinite CAL duo points out: “The best, most accurate chemistry lab in the state of California for cannabis testing is actually the worst one for the producers because it’ll show the pesticides and report a lower cannabinoid potency result. As a lab, you may be working accurately, but if a producer can go next door to another certified lab that will give them a 30% higher cannabinoid analysis and never show a pesticide, solvent, or heavy metal, you lose business.”
Looking back at the recent evolution of the cannabis industry, Swider and Dr. Marelius are proud of the impact they’ve had on improving the safety of cannabis in California and other states. By setting the bar for quality testing standards as high as possible, they’ve pushed other companies to elevate their standards and had an outsized impact on the way producers grow cannabis. Their work has improved public good and made quality cannabis products available and attainable to everyday consumers and those with medicinal needs.
For many years, Marelius and Swider would work 16- to 20-hour days. And, even though they still work a lot, both credit their incredible team for allowing them to establish more balance in their lives today. Outside of the office, Swider loves to fish and spend time with his family. Any chance he gets, Marelius enjoys hiking and off-roading anywhere within driving distance from San Diego.
To anyone in the next generation hoping to break into the cannabis industry, Swider and Marelius say that your biggest mistake would be to look at it as a money-making opportunity. The market is saturated and, unless you have a novel technology to cut expenses without sacrificing quality, you won’t turn profit margins.
“Our work, especially in analytical chemistry, is about passion and drive to better the industry,” said Swider. “I took this route because I believe the advancements of science make the world go round.”
Marelius shares, “Getting into chemistry was a good way to answer unknown questions and figure out how things work. Once I got more into it, I fell down the rabbit hole—in a good way.”