The cannabis industry is complex and has many avenues that the mainstream public is often unaware of. One such aspect is the testing of cannabis plants to ensure a consumer is not ingesting – and subsequently digesting – harmful chemicals or metals. These same laws and restrictions apply to other areas of agriculture, including produce and grains. Tests must be run to make sure that farmers and growers meet the government regulations in their area..
This same testing also ensures that cannabis farmers (hemp, medical, or recreational farmer alike) are compliant with state laws regarding allowed amounts of THC / CBD and other cannabinoids within their crops. This testing is responsible for supplying the information that appears on the label of your product when purchased from a dispensary.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cassie Griffin. formerly of Free Fall Testing Labs. While there, she was the Senior Analyst, Laboratory Safety Officer, and Lab Director in Training. The company was a very small business with only a few employees. Mrs. Griffin is a Chemist and was responsible for the testing of cannabis, which included hemp, as well as medical and recreational cannabis. Located in Pueblo, Colorado, Free Fall Testing Labs had a responsibility to report testing results to both the client and the state. They were subjected to several types of monitoring including regular audits by the state to ensure they were compliant with local regulations.
Cassie Griffin was at her position with Free Fall Labs for just over a year and a half. However, she has worked in the cannabis industry (CI) for at least the last 4-5 years. Her previous positions in the CI include managing a Haberdashery, and completing hemp testing for Cannalyst Labratories.
Before joining the CI, Cassie worked for a dairy farm for 5 years in Indiana where she performed quality control testing on milk and milk products.
When you think of a scientist you probably picture someone with sandy brown hair, a pocket square, and glasses. Well, at least I do. That’s not who you’ll get with Cassie Griffin, and although she does wear glasses, she defies all the normative stereotypes. When you meet her, you’ll likely be in for a surprise. She is covered in tattoos, has gorgeous green hair, and a smile that lights up the room.
Cassie has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics from Indiana University.
She grew up on a small farm in Indiana with her late younger brother Dan Taylor, mother Robin Taylor, and father Bob Taylor. She is now married to her best friend Vincent Griffin whom she shares both her heart and home with in Pueblo, CO. They are the proud parents of 3 big loveable dogs and 2 adorable cats.
It wasn’t the CI or Vincent that brought her to Pueblo though; it was her younger brother Dan. Dan was one of the primary inspirations and motivations behind her move to CO. His love for cannabis and networking abilities helped to inspire her to move into the cannabis industry and later helped lead the path to her previous career move with Free Fall Testing Labs. Sadly, on April 28th, 2021, tragedy struck and Dan Taylor passed away from a heart condition.
However, even while grieving, Cassie found that there is no rest in a thriving industry when you are the scientist behind the scenes. She reports that she is very hopeful for the future of the cannabis industry and sees lots of potential within the cannabis plant. However, the career does come with its challenges.
Cannabis is still federally illegal, and state regulations are often changing. New testing methods are discovered, implemented and standard operating procedures have to be established, replicated and maintained in an industry that is always learning and growing more with each passing moment. For example, some cannabinoids require different forms of storage since they will degrade if not kept in a controlled environment. The industry red-tape and reports are a world of their own to keep track of in an atmosphere of ever-changing regulations.
So the next time you buy cannabis in Colorado read your label and remember that a green-haired heavily tattooed woman with a smile that lights up the room was likely responsible for bringing that information to you. However, she might never have learned how if it wasn’t for her little brother’s dedication to cannabis and their sibling bond.
I’ve gotten to know Cassie fairly well over the last year and the impact losing her brother has had is profound. Yet, every day she pushed herself forward to be more loving to herself and better at her job durig her time at Free Fall Labs, ensuring that we all receive a quality cannabis product.
As of 2/25/2022 Cassie Griffin has informed us she has secured a new position and should be off to new training as we speak. That is just how dedicated she is. She didn’t even take any personal time off before moving onto her next adventure. We are excited to catch up with her again in the near future.