Growing Forward: Cannabis Testing | The NM political report


In two weeks, the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department will have to begin accepting applications for non-medicinal cannabis cultivation licenses by law. But an often overlooked aspect of the cannabis industry is testing.

The State Department of Health has long had a list of medical cannabis testing requirements, but now that almost all aspects of cannabis are overseen by a new department, laboratory operators like Barry Dungan of Rio Grande Analytics are eagerly awaiting new testing standards.

Dungan began his cannabis testing career after a stint as a researcher at New Mexico State University. He and his partners founded Rio Grande Analytics in Las Cruces, but earlier this year the company moved to Albuquerque for a central location.

Dungan told Growing Forward, the collaborative cannabis podcast between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS, that for the most part he is still operating under DOH rules, but that he needs to be notified in advance of rule changes from RLD.

“The things we need to buy are things that are in government laboratories, crime laboratories, and forensic laboratories,” Dungan said. “That’s not, go to the used car park and just get one. These are very, very sophisticated devices and I just need as much time as possible to get them in place. ”

DOH tried to introduce stricter standards for testing, but these new rules were overturned by a state district judge after they were challenged by a group of medical cannabis producers. Right now, Rio Grande Analytics is testing cannabis based on the DOH standards that were introduced years ago. But Dungan said if RLD’s new standards require more stringent testing, it will take time to organize funding.

“We’re planning an investment of $ 800,000 for the pesticides and heavy metals, and the nature of the business means I can’t go to Wells Fargo and get a loan for it,” said Dungan. “Besides, these things are made overseas, they have to be shipped here.”

Rio Grande Analytics is just one of two state-approved laboratories in the state, but Dungan said the correct number of laboratories will depend on how many cultivator licenses the state issues.

And while the state is in the final stages of finalizing the rules for producers, regulators have yet to create rules for other parts of the industry like couriers and laboratories. And Dungan said running a test lab is a lot more complicated than many think.

“Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, I’m going to have a lab and it’s that simple’ and there are a lot of moving parts.”

You can listen to the entire episode below.