Last week, medical cannabis testing facility Full Spectrum Labs shut its doors indefinitely, citing a lack of a state license to operate. But that news came as a surprise to Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait, who says the lab could have remained open.
Postlethwait says state law allows for testing facilities to take small portions for sampling and that all Full Spectrum would need to operate is an occupational license.
"We don't know why they haven't gotten their [occupational] license," she maintains. "Full Spectrum Labs just tests small samples of marijuana for cannabinoids and potency. It's the labs that are going to be researching and developing with cultivation on-site that will need the [medical marijuana research] license, which we do not have in place yet. But for Full Spectrum, as far as we are concerned, that's fine."
House Bill 1284, passed last year, vaguely states that "a licensed medical marijuana center may provide a small amount of its medicine for marijuana testing to a laboratory that is licensed pursuant to the occupational licensing rules."
The rules make it clear that an analytical lab can apply for an occupational license, but do not make any distinctions between the two different types of businesses. Essentially the law lump the labs in with medical marijuana centers. HB 1284 also offers no details on labs accepting samples or transfer of custody.
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Full Spectrum spokesman Buckie Minor says going strictly by language in HB 1284 would leave the lab in a murky gray area. While testing for other centers might be okay, it's only a part of their business. Minor said laws meant to force dispensaries to grow their own cannabis inadvertently prevents private patients from having medicine tested. "Patients bring their stuff to me to test," he said. "But under [the state] dispensary licenses, patients can't take medicine to a dispensary. We can't accept it."
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Minor says the lab has asked the MMED to clarify its position in writing, but got no response. "Who would operate without anything in writing?" he says. Conversely, Postlethwait was unaware of any communications and said she hoped FSL would reach out to her.
Several other labs remain open despite the alleged gray area.