How recreational marijuana in California left chemists in the dark

On a gray afternoon in early November, Samantha Miller supervised a handful of people in long white coats while they placed very delicate samples into very expensive machines. Miller spends most of her waking hours inside the peppy, lime-green-accented lab she founded. For five and a half years, she tested every sample that came through its doors herself. Lab workers are advised to avoid handling that much material because they can get repetitive stress injuries, but Samantha Miller loves to test weed. “There isn’t someone more qualified on the planet to be a cannabinoid scientist than me,” she’s told me more than once.

I’d spoken with Miller at length on the phone in July, then again in October, before I met her in Santa Rosa, California. Both times, she’d seemed unflappable: she laughed loudly and often; she’d referred to herself as a unicorn and a renegade. But

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