World of Weed: Marijuana testing labs

Jackson Co., Ore –In Southern Oregon, there is only one lab certified to test marijuana. In part three of an exclusive NBC5 News report, we uncover how marijuana is tested, what it is tested for, and how labs are put in a regulatory role.

“Cannabis is kind of like the redheaded stepchild, though it’s more benign than something like alcohol, it’s, the legislators want to uber-regulate it,” Alex Rogers said.

Rogers is the CEO of Ashland Alternative Health. He has had a medical marijuana card for nearly a decade.

“Everybody wants to know what they’re putting in their body,” Rogers said. “We might not know it with our food, but let’s know it with the cannabis.”

Kenevir Research is the only lab south of Eugene certified to test marijuana. Jason Wilson is the Chief Quality Officer and Technologist.

“When we first opened, we were dealing primarily with patients growing their own cannabis, wanting to know what’s in it, and it is safe to consume, and we did a lot of with directly with dispensaries,” Wilson said.

Since recreational marijuana became legal two years ago, Wilson said their client base has grown, and shifted.

“We’re primarily doing mostly our work with cultivators directly, as well as a lot of processors, and infused product manufacturers,” Wilson said.

The lab performs numerous tests for both recreational and medical marijuana.

“Raw, dried and cured cannabis plants have to be tested for potency, pesticides as dictated by a list given out by the state, as well as moisture content, and then something called water activity, which is like an indicator of spoilage while it’s in storage,” Wilson said.

Processors and infused product manufacturers often undergo even more rigorous testing.

“They also require residual solvent testing, if their manufacturing processes require the use of solvents that are on the restricted list as dictated by the Oregon Health Authority.”

The lab also provides yeast, mold and bacterial testing. In the event of a test failure, they are required by law to notify the state. That mandate went into effect on October first.

“That’s been a big adjustment for both the labs and our clients,” Wilson said.

There are only 18 labs that are accredited to test cannabis in Oregon. For more information on the current regulations, click here.

Natalie Weber produces and anchors the weekend broadcasts of NBC5 News at 6 and 11. She reports during the week for NBC5 News at 5 and 6. Natalie is also the spokesperson for S.O. Close to Homeless, a community discussion on homelessness in our region, started by Access and NBC5 News.

Natalie began her career in journalism as an intern with NBC5 News during her senior year at South Medford High School. Following graduation, she was promoted to Producer for the morning news broadcast for NBC’s sister station, FOX26, then to Producer for NBC5 News at Sunrise.

Natalie took a break from news to work for the Medford Police Department as a Records Specialist. However, she missed the fast-paced environment of the newsroom. Natalie moved back to her hometown of Eureka, California to start her on-air career with North Coast News KAEF ABC23 before returning once again to NBC5 News.

Natalie attended Southern Oregon University. She enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as running, reading and exploring Southern Oregon.

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