Full Spectrum Labs takes the mystery out of those meds

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks with the local medical marijuana industry is the lack of quality control. Other than taking a dispensary worker's word for it, it's impossible to know just how powerful is that sample of OG Kush is -- or, for that matter, if it really is OG Kush. And as for the potency of those pot brownies behind the counter? Forgetaboutit.

That's where Full Spectrum Laboratories comes in. Located in a warehouse on Larimer Street in north Denver, the four-month-old operation looks like a high school chemistry lab, decked out in test tubes, pipettes and a chemical hood -- though it's all to analyze a substance that would never be allowed in science class: marijuana.

To test the potency of meds they're getting from vendors, dispensaries are delivering small samples (about 500 milligrams) of their products to Full Spectrum, which uses an advanced form of chemical analysis called high-performance liquid chromatography to determine their amount of THC and other cannabinoids, the psychoactive components of the plant. The service, which also tracks the moisture content of plant samples, costs $120 per test, though the fee is cut in half for dispensaries willing to shell out for 40 tests.

The cost is worth it, says Bob Winnicki, Full Spectrum's 35-year-old co-owner, who was a third-year med student until he came up with this idea several months ago. "Dispensaries are getting all this really cool stuff, but it turns out 80 percent of the edibles aren't being made properly, so it's not as active as it could be." The only other U.S. company Winnicki knows of that runs tests like this is the venerable Harborside Health Center in California, though Winnicki says they're using a slower and less detailed form of chemical analysis.

It's a good thing Full Spectrum's chemical processes are fast; the place has been swamped with upwards of 100 tests a week. The company's already considering new ventures, such as a certification process for marijuana growers, a "Larimer Street Scale" to help patients determine what potency they should use and a spin-off business focusing on high-caliber edibles and other marijuana formulations.

"It's all stuff that should have been done 15 years ago," says Winnicki. Now they're making up for lost time.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.