When the owner of a cannabis dispensary reached out to chemist Dr. Susan Audino for her lab expertise, she wasn’t very supportive of cannabis.

An accreditation auditor for testing and calibration laboratories, her knowledge of cannabis at the time was sparse. But instead of outright declining, she began researching cannabis. It was through her studies of scientific articles on the plant that her opinion changed.

Dr. Audino decided to pitch the idea of getting into cannabis with a laboratory accreditation body, which verifies appropriate quality measures and standards are met for reliable testing data and safety regulations. They agreed, and together the team developed a cannabis program for accreditation. 

Dr. Audino’s journey with cannabis snowballed from there. Now she is recognized as an industry leader with respect to quality assurance.

“Quality assurance is near and dear to my heart,” she explains. Her belief is that consumers have a right to know what they are getting in their cannabis products. It has become a driving force behind her scientific work. 

By integrating this passion with her PhD in chemistry, Dr. Audino has found a unique way to form a brand new industry that has a resounding effect. 

Because the cannabis market is expanding so rapidly, scientists are left chasing regulations that are not founded on scientific evidence. Currently there is very little harmonization of testing requirements throughout the country. With no safety net in place, it’s difficult to compare results from one laboratory to another.

Dr. Susan Audino
S.A. Audino & Associates, LLC 

Dr. Audino hopes to bring an end to this which has fueled her passion as the Science Advisor for the AOAC International Cannabis Analytical Science Program, among the other hats she wears. 

Through consultations with regulatory bodies, she wants to help them better understand the science behind the complexities of the cannabis plant and work with the scientists. 

By letting science take the lead with regulations, chemists can provide more information to communities, who in turn better understand the science and testing that generates safe results for their products.

“I believe people have a right to know that what they’re getting is safe,” Audino states. When labs have high quality standards, methods, and control, they provide more consistent and reliable testing for consumers. With this information, consumers can make an informed decision about ingesting cannabis products. “We can begin to see confidence in test results.”

Nowadays, Dr. Audino’s passion for quality assurance when it comes to cannabis hasn’t waned.

She has consulted as an expert for multiple states and federal bodies, presented internationally and nationally at conferences, taught and audited standards, and is a contributing author to the first cannabis textbook.

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, science will need more chemists like Dr. Audino to remain steps ahead. 

While gender bias still exists within cannabis, most evident by the increasing decline of women in executive roles, women who are passionate about cannabis can still carve out their own space to make an impact.

Dr. Audino’s advice?

“Remain true to your own goals and beliefs. Backup your passion with knowledge and learn at every opportunity.”

Sara Payan

Shawn DeNae Wagenseller