White City, Ore. — For the first time we’re getting a look inside Southern Oregon’s only marijuana testinglaboratory.
It’s a quickly expanding business that’s becoming increasingly important in the sales of medical, and soon recreational, marijuana.
It’s been busy at Kenevir Lab, where workers test medical marijuana for potency, pesticides and do microbiological analyses.
“We approach testing very seriously,” said Jason Wilson, a lab technician at Kenevir.
Wilson said to his knowledge, Kenevir is the only medical marijuana testing lab in Southern Oregon.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana, business is expected to pick up more than ever.
Oregon legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in 2013 and testing the cannabis before it hit store shelves became a requirement.
In response, Wilson said a number of labs have popped up across Oregon.
According to Wilson, even as the rules for recreational marijuana are being ironed out, the labs starting up in Oregon are not currently regulated.
“There’s not a real governing body that’s providing a lot of oversight or developing regulations so it’s a little wild right now,” said Wilson.
Rob Patridge, Chairman for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) the agency overseeing the roll-out of recreational marijuana, said they’re aware labs don’t currently operate by the same testing standards.
“We’re very concerned about how labs are unregulated,” began Patridge.
“We’re working with the Department of Agriculture. We’re working with others related to testing and how we certify,” he continued.
Patridge said the OLCC is now waiting on the Oregon Legislature for direction. However even if regulations for labs are put in place, it doesn’t necessarily mean changes to medical marijuana testing, which is currently separate from recreational.
“There are many legislators who are looking at the merger of recreational as well as medical together,” said Patridge.
Whatever happens, Wilson said Kenevir will be ready for the regulations once the rules are established.
“We try to strive for the same quality standards that any agricultural product testing would go through,” said Wilson.
Wilson said Kenevir iscurrently working to obtain an international certification to stay transparent and on top of their testing standards as they prepare for new regulations.
However, until that time comes, marijuana testing labs across Oregon will operate business as usual without state regulationseven as the business of marijuana gets set totake off.
Wilson said the lab has worked with over 300 different clients and tested well over 1000 samples so far.
He said starting a lab is expensive. Not only is the equipment and space pricey, but an extensive education is needed as well.
Wilson said generally pricing for marijuana testing runs between $100-$300 depending on what the client wants done. He said if an entrepreneur is trying to get their product into a dispensary, that requires three rounds of testing, making it more expensive.