Medical marijuana lab in Colorado Springs latest to be raided by DEA

We recently wrote about how a DEA raid at Full Spectrum Laboratories, a Denver medical marijuana testing facility, was triggered by the lab applying for an analytical lab licensure through the DEA. Now DEA agents have hit another marijuana testing lab -- Colorado Springs-based Genovations -- not long after the lab applied for the same license.

"They spent half a day with me. Nine of them," says Genovations owner Michael Lee of the agents who came knocking yesterday, adding that they walked away with a 25-pound box of marijuana stem material Lee was using to test and calibrate his machinery.

Lee's a relative old-timer in the medical marijuana scene: His Colorado Springs dispensary, Cannabis Therapeutics, is one of the oldest, around and he has a history of pushing the envelope. He decided recently to expand Genovations, a chemical lab where he's been experimenting with new THC extractions and products, to include cannabis testing for area dispensaries. He applied for the DEA license last month, had the necessary equipment installed two weeks ago and was planning on opening for business soon -- until the DEA arrived.

"Sixty-eight percent of all weed on the shelf right now is not appropriate for human consumption," he says. "I can test for molds, I can test for all these different pesticides. The funny thing is, the DEA doesn't want me to test for them."

The problem, explained DEA spokesperson Mike Turner in a recent interview, is that the DEA is required to inspect a lab that applies to them for a license. And if they happen to find marijuana during the inspection, they have to confiscate it since it's still a class-one narcotic under federal law. And this discovery will likely count against labs on their application.

From Lee's perspective, the situation's a catch-22. To correctly calibrate his machinery, he needs to use scientifically measured samples of marijuana components -- but to legally use those components, he needs a DEA license. And the DEA supervising agent who stopped by yesterday made it abundantly clear Lee wouldn't be getting that.

For one thing, says Lee, the agents told him that he couldn't have a DEA license and own his dispensary, Cannabis Therapeutics. "That would give me a safe haven from law enforcement, because I'm DEA certified," he explains. And even if he didn't own a dispensary, agents told him the license wouldn't do him much good because every pot grower he took samples from would have to be DEA certified, too -- and the feds are not about to start doing that.

Lee hasn't been thwarted, however. He's withdrawn his DEA license application, but he still plans to open Genovations's testing wing within a week -- though with a slightly different approach. "We're gonna move forward in another direction in what we were," he says, without going into specifics.

In the meantime, Lee will continue on at the forefront of Colorado's cannabis revolution, churning out strange concoctions like THC bubble bath and THC beer.

As Lee, a member of Colorado Springs mega-churches New Life and Radiant, puts it, "Each and every day I thank the good Lord."

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner