What is a Medical Marijuana Testing Facility?

As Missouri approaches closer and closer to having medical marijuana available to its residents, many are wondering about the steps required to get from the field to the shelf. While many imagine the traditional stereotype of a basement with UV lights, the medical marijuana industry is highly regulated and ensures that patients receive exactly what they are purchasing. Once a plant leaves the grow facility, it is sent to a testing facility to check that it is safe before sending to a dispensary to sell. 

Testing facilities are a key step in ensuring safety for patients, providing the peace of mind that the product is the correct dose and purity that is promised. Let’s learn more about why these facilities are important and what goes into starting one. 

Why are testing facilities needed?

Without testing facilities, there would be no guarantee that a grower is following proper techniques to grow safe, consumable medical marijuana. Some of the tests that a medical marijuana facility would run include: 

  • Testing for physical contamination. In its early stages of growing, the medical marijuana plant has been likened to a sponge. Everything that comes from the outside could potentially contaminate the plant, especially when it comes to physical contamination. If a grower did not use proper gloves or used contaminated equipment, it could infect the rest of the crop. This can also occur if the final product was packaged in an unclean area. 
  • Microbial testing. Medical marijuana can be contaminated by microbes like E.coli, clostridium botulinum and salmonella, potentially making the user sick. It’s not uncommon for marijuana sold on the street to include these dangerous microbes, with many street plants being deemed unsafe for consumption. Medical marijuana testing facilities can quickly determine if these microbes are present and will remove the plant from production if necessary. 
  • Potency analysis. Imagine if you were to take a medication to help you sleep only to find out it was actually half as effective as it said, or if your pain medication was twice as strong and it led to an overdose. You can quickly understand why it is important to list correct doses, and the same goes for medical marijuana. Testing facilities check the potency levels of THC and CBD in a plant to determine what should be listed on the label. This can help avoid adverse effects as patients receive a dosage. 
  • Pesticides/additional chemical contamination. If harmful pesticides are used during the growing process, it’s possible that they will find their way into the product. Labs will diligently test for any contaminants before sending the finished product to a dispensary, 

How do I get involved in medical marijuana testing?

Missouri recognized the need for additional testing facilities during the application period, expanding the number of facilities to 10 from 2. For those interested in starting a testing facility, you should: 

  • Have experience in the medical or pharmaceutical industry 
  • Have experience in a legal medical marijuana market 
  • Have experience with the manufacturing industry 
  • Have set plans for data and information management 
  • Have experience in extracting medication from plants 
  • Have experience testing food or drugs in the healthcare industry 

Are you interested in opening a medical marijuana testing facility? 

Contact Reynolds & Gold. We can guide you through the application process and discuss your future plans for your testing facility. 

A man prunes medical marijuana plants in a cultivation facility.