On C Street, next to the post office, is an unmarked building – while plain looking from the outside, step inside and it’s a state-of-the-art testing laboratory where Certified Ag Labs will conduct testing on marijuana and agricultural products.
Robert Myers owns Certified Ag Labs, LLC and worked with the city of Marysville to get the proper credentials to operate a commercial testing facility in town.
With the city’s July passage of ordinance 1418 for a development agreement for a cannabis and agriculture laboratory, the lab is now just waiting for state approval to open for business.
The lab is International Standardization for Organization (ISO) certified and will test cannabis products that are sold commercially and have to pass state compliance tests for safety and potency standards. The lab will not be open to the public or for use by individual consumers Myers said.
“The problem is if its (cannabis products are) not lab tested, all these things we’re talking about all the metals, all the pesticides that they’re inhaling them, they’re bringing them into their system,” Myers said.
Lab testing process
To have commercial cannabis products tested at the lab, businesses and commercial cannabis growers can place orders through the lab’s website. Then the lab’s vehicle will retrieve samples, barcode and scan the batch of samples before they arrive at the lab.
The lab functions like a clock where the samples cycle through to be tested: First samples enter the sample receiving room to be sorted. Next, samples go to the prep room where specialized machinery like a cryogenic mill freezes products like edibles into a powder, to make them easier to test. Then the prepared samples go to the biology and chemistry labs where they are placed into machines like incubators and microwaves that conduct precise testing with automated machinery.
“Removing human error is a big thing that we’re going for here,” said Lab Director Dan Roettger of the automation the lab uses.
The total process takes between three and five days, with costs ranging from $600 to $1,000, Myers said.
A sample can have between six to 11 tests run to check for levels of harmful contaminants. The lab tests for pesticides, heavy metals and residual solvents used in the extraction process. They also test for microbes such as e-coli and salmonella and mycotoxins caused by bacteria.
Roettger said that any cannabis product sold commercially is labeled with what percentage THC – tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis – the product contains.
The total ratio of THC or CBD, which is cannabidiol, the inactive ingredient of cannabis in a product is called potency. Potency is important for recreational and medicinal cannabis users to understand so they are aware of the dose they are consuming.
“Anything that is labeled right now it has to test within 10 percent of that label,” Roettger said.
Labs like Certified Ag Labs are a growing industry across the state, with laboratories cropping up in the Bay Area and Sacramento, but the Marysville lab is one of the few in the Yuba-Sutter area. Myers said he hopes the lab can help make cannabis products more safe for consumers.
“The biggest thing to understand for the consumer is the importance of getting whatever they purchase, anything with cannabis any type of cannabis or CBD to make sure that it’s lab tested,” Myers said.