Marijuana testing labs see a green future

Marijuana testing labs see a green future

LAS VEGAS – The marijuana business boom continues.

Dispensaries have made headlines for better-than-anticipated sales and the state seems to be on the way to solving the distributor issue.

But one pillar of the marijuana business that hasn’t stopped working behind-the-scenes is the laboratories. The labs play a crucial function in the marijuana industry.

How safe the pot is, it’s potency, and a host of other things must be tested, according to state law before it ever makes it to a dispensary.

And with the production ramp-up leading to recreational sales, labs are working at full-capacity.

It is not your high school chemistry class.

“We look for mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic,” said Dr. Ben Chew, district manager, DB Labs.

DB Labs was the first cannabis lab to open in southern Nevada. Since opening just ahead of medical marijuana sales two years ago, business has been booming.

“We test the flower, we test the extracts, and we test the edibles,” Dr. Chew said.

With recreational marijuana sales exploding on to the scene two weeks ago, cultivators ramped up production.
Everything that goes out to consumers has to be tested.

“We are anticipating this to increase over the next few months, actually quite dramatically,” Dr. Chew said.

Right now, the lab is testing 30 to 50 different samples per day. To handle that, CEO Susan Bunce has staff working on three different shifts.

“We have increased our staff here at DB Labs, and we have also increased our instrumentation,” she said.

Expensive equipment with names like ultra high pressure liquid chromatography and inductly coupled mass plasma spectrometers allows for the most accurate testing possible.

That has helped the lab obtain a coveted ISO certification an international testing standard that surpasses even state requirements.

“The consumers, that see that something that has been tested by DB Labs, that we have gone the extra step to get that accreditation,” Bunce said.

There are are nearly 90 licensed marijuana cultivators statewide and nearly 60 facilities that make marijuana-infused products. But right now, there are only 11 labs statewide to handle the demand of testing all of that product.