Earlier this month Alaska’s first dispensary got the green light to open their doors – but there was no product to stock the shelves with due to a lack of labs that applied for licenses to test cannabis products. Luckily, two labs in Anchorage were in the process of being screened and this past Monday, CannTest LLC became the first lab to open in the state. By the time they opened their doors there were cannabis growers waiting to bring in samples for testing.
“It’s been a long road and I’m happy to see it finally starting to move.” Malagodi (CannTest CEO) said. “We get to play a real part and (provide) a real service to people.”
Both Leif Abel, co-owner of Greatland Ganja, and Janna Karvonen, co-owner of Green Rush Gardens, arrived first thing in the morning with samples for the labs to test. Each of them decided to drive up early in the morning, rather than the night before, due to regulations that require them to make as few stops as possible while transporting the cannabis. Before they left they had to log the cannabis they transported and their time of departure in Metrc, the seed-to-sale tracking system used both in Alaska and Colorado; when they arrived at the lab it was entered back into the system by the lab techs.
Once they got there the samples were weighed to ensure they were all 4 grams – enough for them to accurately test for both potency and pesticides. At that point, they were informed that testing would take up to 72 hours – so it is expected that these first few strains will be fully tested for active cannabinoid potency (percentage of THC, CBD, etc.) as well as for use of illegal pesticides and signs of mold. Once their products have passed their testing, the workers at the lab will enter it into the system as ready for sale – and then the real fun can begin.
Technically, the first cannabis transaction took place between these growers and the testing lab – it cost over $1200 to have these strains tested – and the cultivators are still required to pay taxes on the samples, even though they are destroyed after testing. However, retail sales will begin likely by the end of the week, or the start of the weekend, for those shops who are licensed and awaiting products – and there are many more shops preparing to open over the next couple of months.
All of this will help to move this industry forward – and just in time for the holidays, when they are likely to see a bit of tourist influx as well as people with gift money to spend and a new legal cannabis industry to spend it in. Soon we will get to see just how successful Alaska’s cannabis industry will be.