Too many trees, not enough testing labs, say growers
by Rick Thompson/February 5, 2020
LANSING- A pair of licensed cannabis cultivators say the lack of testing labs in Michigan is impacting their ability to get cannabis products from back room to display shelf.
Last week I was in Kalkaska and this week, Lansing, filming videos in advance of the launch of Ryan Basore’s Redemption product line. Up north I spoke with Tom and Krista Beller of RL Solutions, who tell me their product is taking up to six weeks to worm its way through the testing cycle.
That delay between creating a finished product and finding out if it can be legally sold is a big drain on all aspects of their work.
In Lansing, Kevin Pybus of Truu Cannabis has the same complaint. Six weeks to manage testing. The delay in receiving results means financial issues, storage problems and uncertainty about the health of plants.
Long delays in testing have been considered major problems in other state’s cannabis retail sale programs before. In some instances those delays caused supply shortages of epic proportions.
To be clear, it isn’t a lack of desire on the part of testing labs to do the work. Two factors contribute to this logjam in the heartland. Michigan’s testing program is one of the nation’s most strict. The tests themselves are lengthy and time consuming.
Second is the lack of accredited testing labs available for testing of cannabis in Michigan. Only a half-dozen are listed on the state’s website as having been awarded licenses to handle medical and recreational cannabis for the state’s approx. 300,000 patients and 7 million cannabis-enabled adults.
Adding to the difficulty are the locations of the labs themselves. Those six are located in Hazel Park, Walled Lake, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Warren. None of those places are close to Kalkaska, which is near Traverse City.
Nor are they near Germfask or Detour, both sites of cultivation licensees and both in the Upper Peninsula.
Frederick, Michigan, home to Driven Grow, is not near to any cannabis testing laboratory. Drew Driver, the owner of the cultivation facility, agrees that the testing delay has been a major hurdle in the facility’s business plan. I visited his facility for a video shoot in support of Redemption several weeks ago but heard the same complaints about the system.
Some provisioning centers are open and running with sometimes less than ten different kinds of cannabis, referred to as strains. Those shopping in the recreational market have far fewer to select from, as illustrated on the Jazz Cabbage Cafe Radio Show’s Tuesday broadcast. Two budtenders from one of Ann Arbor’s most popular cannabis store were on the broadcast and delivered the details.
Yet this is a problem not experienced by all retail locations. I was a VIP at the Cookies Store grand opening in Detroit last week. There were more than 400 people lined up, waiting in tents for the opportunity to meet famous rap star Berner and shop in his branded retail establishment. The shop opened with more than 40 strains of cannabis available for purchase.
Rumor has it the Detroit Cookies store opening was the best the company has ever seen, and they have already opened six other locations, primarily in states on the oceanic coasts. My rumors are usually pretty accurate.
Detroit is still not allowing recreational cannabis businesses, so all of the Cookies canna love went right to registered medical patients. Although I love to see enthusiasm for the market, and I love to see lines of people waiting to buy a legal lid, I was struck by the discrepancy between the limited selection available in some places and the wealth of cannabis being displayed by others- even though they both operate within the same lab-restricted system.
View the map of Michigan’s licensed cannabis facilities at: