Cannabis testing labs gear up for Vt. retail market

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 4:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2022 at 4:40 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - As Vermont moves closer to the October 1st date when retail cannabis can begin hitting store shelves, lab techs are already hard at work making sure the product is safe for consumers.

Luke Emerson-Mason and Carly Farmer are with Bia Diagnostics, which is one of two labs currently licensed in Vermont to test cannabis before it hits the shelves.

“From a business perspective, it is definitely an exciting time for Vermont. This emerging market. I think everyone from the growers to the processors to the retail stores and the consumers,” Emerson-Mason said.

The testing makes sure the consumer is getting a safe product. Evaluating pesticide levels and potency are the top priorities for the labs.

“Compliance is really what is going to set the standard for the Vermont brand,” said Cary Giguere, Vermont’s compliance director. He says individual growers will also be responsible for testing their buds and documenting the results. “Our laws and rules are really designed to ensure it’s a quality product and folks are protected and safe.”

The state is working to license two other labs and officials say they are hopeful the THC testers will be able to keep up with demand. In some ways, the scientists will be ambassadors for the industry, making sure the cannabis grown in the Green Mountain State lives up to a well-known high standard.

“Not only are we making sure that that brand is safe by testing for containments, but we are also looking at things like terpenes, which can add to the entourage, add to the benefits that cannabis can provide to people,” Farmer said.

Growers who fail testing requirements will be subject to warnings and investigations however, state officials say the immediate focus will be on getting growers all on the same page, rather than handing out penalties for those who are not.