Pennsylvania approved the first two labs for its Medical Marijuana Program. These labs will ensure that the medication is safe for patients and correctly labeled. The two labs, ACT Laboratories of Pennsylvania and Keystone State Testing, received their approval last week. These labs are now in the process of setting up shop in Clearfield and Lower Paxton Township.
The lab’s approvals are good for two years and can be renewed after that.
Both labs say that they will have their operations ready by late October or early November to begin testing whenever the first batches of medical marijuana that growers produce are available.The availability date is still unknown, however, state officials anticipate medical marijuana will begin being sold to patients in early 2018.
April Hutcheson, a health department spokeswoman, said that the 12 outfits who were awarded grower/processor permits are still working toward being deemed operational by the department to begin growing plants. According to hutcheson, these growers will contract with department-approved labs to ensure “quality control.”
Hutcheson explains the department’s standards, “They are making sure the product is what it says it is. They are certifying the quality and content of the product that patients are receiving at a dispensary. It’s a very important part of the process.”
Unlike the cap on grower/processors and dispensary set in the law, there is no limit to the number of labs that can gain state approval to test medical marijuana products. However, ACT Lab CEO Jeff Nemeth explains that there aren’t too many accredited labs, like his, that test cannabis. Nemeth explained the process, “The labs will test the ratios of cannabidiol, or CBD – a non-intoxicating compound – and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, – that component that causes the high- and make sure they are correctly identified on the label. The temporary health department regulations on labs also requires that they test for pesticides, solvents, moisture content, and other substances.”
The temporary health department regulations on labs also requires that they test for pesticides, solvents, moisture content, and other substances.”
“In Pennsylvania, because this is so medically focused, we want to make sure patients are getting the percentage of THC and CBD that they need and through the labs, we are guaranteeing it is what it says it is,” Hutcheson said.
Kelly Greenland, owner/operator of Keystone State Testing, got into the field of cannabis testing after discovering a study that showed only 17 percent of 75 medical marijuana products were accurately labeled.
Greenland stated, “I want to make sure people like [the ones in her life] are getting quality, correctly labeled medical marijuana that will actually help them. People who really need this medication are elderly patients with suppressed immune systems or children, who heaven forbid, get the wrong dosage of something, I want to help ensure it is done right.”
Greenland intends to open her lab in a leased facility on Queen Ave and she will have six employee’s. The lab is located close to the health department, which will be surrounded by observational windows for anyone to observe. ACT Lab CEO, Jeff Nemeth, explained why he wanted to come do testing in Pennsylvania, “We decided to come to Pennsylvania for the opportunity to help with the program and we like how Pennsylvania and Illinois are set up with the high regulations and standards of quality to make sure the medicine is safe for the patient.”
Nemeth will start out with three full-time employees and two scientists that will oversee the operation. Nemeth said, “I really appreciate how the state has handled the law and how they are rolling it out. It is very encouraging and I hope other states will to Pennsylvania as a role model.”