Changes are coming to the United States in many ways, particularly after the recent election. President-elect Biden will be coming into office in January, and we’ve seen several states legalize marijuana during this election including New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana. Some of these are states where people never thought it would happen. These changes are indicative of a major shift in not only the law but also the way people view marijuana.
What does this mean for the future? It likely means that it will become easier for other states to get on board and begin passing legislation that makes marijuana legal. While it’s still years out from all of the states making this change, it does seem like it’s coming. Then, it should be only a matter of time before it’s legalized at the federal level.
With these changes, it’s natural that many people start to think about the business aspect of marijuana. People will no longer have to find “someone who knows someone” to buy marijuana. It will be regulated and will be grown, harvested, packaged, and sold by businesses of varying sizes. It will become an opportunity for many to get in on a field that’s sure to be very lucrative.
Building a Cannabis Lab
Another area of business that will be booming, thanks to the increasing legality of cannabis, is testing labs. Creating testing facilities for cannabis is essential, but it’s not easy to build one of these labs. You’ll need to consider a range of factors before beginning.
Know the Legality
The first thing you’ll need to do is understand the legality of creating one of these labs in the state where you live. The regulations can vary from one location to another, and it can be different depending on whether you’re testing for medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both. Some areas will have more regulations than others.
In some cases, you may need to have and maintain ISO/IEC accreditation, which is used to specify testing and calibration requirements. States will often require licensing, and you’ll typically need to have a local license before getting the state license.
Of course, the lab will also need to meet all of the local and state requirements concerning things like fire codes, air quality, chemical exposure, heat output, ventilation, and odor abatement. There will need to be quality control/quality assurance plans in place, and a set of Standard Operating Procedures. The SOPs will describe all of the activities for the various tasks conducted in the lab, and they’ll have to meet all of the regulations and laws in the industry.
It’s your responsibility to determine all of the legal requirements in your area and follow them when building and operating the cannabis testing lab. Keep in mind that the laws and regulations can change over time, and you’ll need to be aware of any of these changes so you can incorporate them.
The Lab Space and Equipment
You can’t just set up anywhere. You need to have a true laboratory setup, and this means that you’ll need enough space, along with all of the right equipment. To meet the laws, you’ll need to have ventilation, as mentioned, and this typically requires fume hoods. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to have proper storage locations that can contain odors. This may include casework and lab cabinets.
Safety is also a factor, so be sure that you have eyewash stations, emergency showers, flammable gas alarm systems, and all other elements that are needed to meet the regulations of your local fire department.
Some of the types of equipment you’ll need to include: gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry equipment.
The gas chromatography helps to determine the classification of cannabinoids and the potency of THC. It can also detect residual solvents. Liquid chromatography can provide you with the capability of measuring the levels of not just THC, but also CBD, THCA, CBDA, and CBN. The mass spectrometry devices can detect the presence of chemicals and toxins.
The Right Team
Naturally, you also need to have a quality team in place to handle the operations of the cannabis lab. While you’ll want to look for those who have the experience, keep in mind that this is a relatively new industry. It may be difficult to find those who have a lot of experience testing cannabis. Therefore, you’ll want to look at the other types of lab experience the candidates have. Choose those who have experience using the types of equipment that you have in your lab, even if they haven’t used it for testing cannabis.
Take the time to get a sense of how much other professionals in the field are making and offer compensation and benefits that are similar. This helps to ensure that you’re able to recruit the best talent for your lab.
Of course, you’ll also need to consider all of the other usual elements when hiring someone. Check their references, make sure they have the skills they claim, and that they are dedicated employees that will be right for the culture of your lab.
What Should You Not Do?
You should never assume that you know what you need for your cannabis testing lab, and you should never make assumptions about legality. Check and then double-check to ensure that you are within the bounds of the law. Failure to do so could end up with your lab shutting down.
Be Ready for the New World
Exciting things are happening in the cannabis industry. You’ll want to make sure that you understand all of the regulations whether you’re becoming a grower or seller, or if you want to create a cannabis testing lab. It’s a huge opportunity that could become even more lucrative as more states—and potentially the federal government—legalize marijuana. Creating a lab now and making sure that you understand the regulations and the equipment you need can put you ahead of the competition.