Q&A with Lori Glauser the founder of EVIO labs

Q&A with Lori Glauser the founder of EVIO labs.  

For Terpenes & Testing Genifer Murray is interviewer.  She is taking a women in tech angle.

  1.      How did you get into the cannabis testing industry?

Having had a close friend who used cannabis medicinally for many years I was always concerned about the quality of the product he consumed.  In 2014, I co-founded the management consulting company Signal Bay, to provide business services to the cannabis industry.  In early 2015, state regulators were finally starting to treat Cannabis as a medicinal product requiring comprehensive compliance testing, and the need for testing was growing.  Testing resonated with us from both a business and values perspective as my co-founder Will Waldrop and I both felt passionate about ensuring that consumers are provided with clean and consistent cannabis products.  We added testing to our breadth of services under the name EVIO Inc. (OTC: EVIO) and acquired of our first lab in Bend, Oregon in 2015.  We’ve been expanding our operations by acquiring and launching labs across the US ever since.


  1.      How has the testing industry changed over the years? 

Just a few years ago, there were only a handful of labs, most launched by highly passionate people with some chemistry knowhow and intense curiosity about the substances in their cannabis.  The industry is rapidly evolving into a new branch of environmental testing, driven almost entirely by new regulations and accreditation requirements. The most notable change has been the steady improvement in proficiency and accuracy of labs.


  1.      What do you think is the biggest problem that exists today in testing?

In a competitive marketplace, there is tremendous incentive for growers to get the highest potency values possible, so they often place pressure on labs to deliver high numbers.  Historically, before state regulation, labs had various non-accredited methods for determining potency and some consistently provided higher results than others.

Now as states regulate, and labs are required to use accredited methods, our competitive advantage is customer service and turn-around time.  The range of variation among most labs is now relatively small, however the lab industry is fighting tirelessly to destigmatize the efforts of the past.


  1.      How many states do you operate in?

EVIO currently operates in 5 states. OR, CA, CO, MA and FL.  We are currently evaluating additional locations, and plan to continue to expand both domestically and internationally.


  1.      Have you met other woman in science/testing arena?

Yes.  I am proud to say that half of our technical staff at EVIO are women.  I also have several female peers in the space – from founders and CEOs to Chief Science Officers at other testing labs.


  1.      Do you have a female mentor?

Early in my career, I was mentored by Jill Tietjen, P.E.  She was a Vice President of Engineering at a large international engineering firm and also served as the National President of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She is today one nation’s foremost advocates of STEM education for women.

Jill taught me the importance of being prepared to accept every opportunity.  She also taught me how to complete big tasks by taking small steps.

I am also inspired by many women in business, including several women in the cannabis industry.  I also find mentorship in both my female and male peers and employees.


  1.      What is like to be a woman in science/testing?

I think being a woman in science is similar to being a man in science, but women just have a few more challenges to overcome.

When I began my mechanical engineering program, four out of 100  students in my freshman class were women. By the time we graduated, my class included four women, and around 25 men. I like to think that we had an extra dose of commitment that helped us get through what was a very challenging program.

As a young engineer, I worked with all-male engineering and construction crews where  I got teased or  propositioned on a weekly basis.   After earning my Masters in Business Administration and began working as a management consultant, the harassment lessened to about once a quarter.

Today,  I am faced with making difficult decisions on a daily basis and I’ve had to develop tough skin.   In that environment,  I notice more than ever how men and women communicate differently and I believe that as a woman, I bring a different perspective to the table, and also provide a different type of mentorship for our employees.


  1.      What is different about other industries you have worked in and the cannabis industry?

Aside from cannabis being federally illegal, I see more parallels than differences to other industries.  My experience in nuclear taught me a lot about the highest needs for product security and safety, as well as regulatory compliance.  The cannabis industry is a lot like most other product oriented industries. It’s all about product marketing, managing and training people, navigating a regulatory environment, continuous improvement.


  1.      What has been the hardest part about this industry?

Lack of access to banking is a unique and very difficult challenge.  Not only is it highly inconvenient, there are dangers associated with having employees transporting large amounts of cash.

The other hard part is shifting our business to meet new or unexpected regulatory requirements.  Each time a test requirement changes in any of the states we work in, we have to re-tool and retrain our staff to meet the new requirements.


  1. If you could go back what would you have done differently, if anything?

With perfect hindsight, there are a thousand little things I would do differently, but I can’t think of any one big thing that I would change.  I believe we went into the right business at the right time with the right strategy and we are executing the plan.


  1. In your opinion are the testing regulations in the states you operate conducive to overall health and safety?  Should there be more testing? Are they over testing (meaning making you test for unreasonable items or are the limits unreasonable?

Yes, I think the testing regulations are close to where they need to be to protect health and safety, but more changes are coming.

Regarding potency labeling and dosage limits, I think that they are appropriate, and need to be stringent in all states where cannabis is sold, especially for edibles.   Homogeneity testing is imperative to ensuring that there is consistency in products from one dose to another. controlled, random sampling by lab personnel or third party samplers  – otherwise the test results have very little meaning.

I also believe that CBD products should be stringently tested and labeled so customers can be sure that they are getting an effective product.

Pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, and microbiological testing, are more complex because of the uncertainty of what could be in cannabis. I think the testing regulations in California, Oregon, and some other states are necessarily stringent.   Until the data comes out about the adverse health effects of combusting and inhaling all of the substances we are testing, regulators are going to take a conservative approach to testing and ensure every batch is tested.


  1.   Have you ever experienced discrimination being a woman in science?

Early in my career I did.

I had a lab partner in college once who said he wouldn’t work with me because he firmly believed that women are incapable of doing the work here was the time I was mistaken for a secretary when asking for engineering drawings from our document control room.

Fortunately, this is happening less and less often as gender discrimination is becoming far less common.


  1.   Do you find camaraderie with women in this industry?

Yes.  I was the founding member of Women Grow Las Vegas.  The first few meetings were attended by about 20-30 women, and they were remarkable.   There was an excitement about being in the industry, we fostered a vibe of support and collaboration and we discussed topics in ways that would have been described differently had the group had both men and women.


  1.   What can women do differently to help women advance their careers in science?

Encourage women to attain STEM education.  Unlike other disciplines like business or marketing, which can be self-taught, I believe a formal STEM education is required to enter a sciences discipline.  And advanced degrees offer women the opportunity to engage in research and independent study that will prove valuable in their science career.


  1.   If you could predict the future what do you think testing will look like?

Once we attain federal legalization, the FDA and other federal agencies will get involved to oversee testing.  That is why we already have our eye on the FDA testing requirements, and have some members on our team who  have worked in that environment.


  1.   It is clear that we need more science regarding this plant.  If you could do a study right now what would it be?

We have a number of studies in queue and look forward to publishing more.

I would like to continue with a project I started a few years ago.  We published the Medical Marijuana Desk Reference, which is a survey of over 800 the peer-reviewed studies on cannabis.  We cross referenced and indexed those studies to the recommended medical conditions.  We look forward to taking this concept to the next level by working with a software called MJ Buddy that connects test results to patient-reported experiences.


  1.   What are the first steps you would recommend to a women/man in order to get more information about the testing industry?

The cannabis science page of our website offers a number of great resources:


  1.   Do you feel science is the driving force for acceptance and legalization in the cannabis industry? 

Sadly, it is not.  If science drove this industry cannabis would not be categorized a Schedule I substance.  The driving force for acceptance and legalization are the patients, consumer advocates, and employees of the accepted legal industry.    One way we can make science a driver is to publish more credible, peer-reviewed studies and not only publish – but promote the results of those studies.


  1.   How is your testing lab different from the other labs?

EVIO Labs’ network of owned locations that operate in multiple states, enable us to take the best practices, people, and lessons learned from each branch to create the best lab out there.   We have created a core Playbook and Quality Manual that we continuously improve based on the experiences across the country.   Each time we add a new lab, we do it better.   We’ve developed a mass of expertise on many instruments and methods, and we’ve passed through 6 ISO/TNI accreditations so far.


  1.   Is there anything else you would like to add that you feel is important for people to know?

As we transition from an unregulated to regulated environment, it has put additional requirements on the labs.   The 24 – 48 hour turnaround times of the past are not achievable in the new regulated environment that demands quality testing.

The testing labs are here to help ensure that the cannabis sold in the legal market is clean, and together we are committed to helping the legal industry thrive.