The commission voted 4-1 to approve a final license for MCR Labs in Framingham, the penultimate step in being able to test recreational marijuana.
Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan said she voted against the lab because of her concerns about diversion. According to Flanagan, a report provided to the commission indicated that the lab didn’t adequately work with police when the theft occurred.
“I have concerns with regards to diversion,” Flanagan said in an interview after the hearing. “Suitability is a big part of this, and I will continue to be concerned with teenagers getting this product, so I felt it was best that my vote was negative.”
According to commission staff, the theft was revealed in the course of the state’s inspection of the lab. Staff said they had ask pointed questions about what would occur if an employee was caught stealing marijuana samples, and MCR President Michael Kahn said that such an incident had occurred last year.
Details of the theft weren’t disclosed, but staff said the case was pending in court and that the commission had been in touch with the Framingham Police Department, which was notified at the time of the theft.
Commissioners who voted to approve the license said they doubted that such an incident would occur in the future.
“Last year when the incident occurred, our regulations didn’t exist,” said Patrick Beyea, director of investigations for the commission. “MCR Labs wasn’t seeking licensure, and I believe the licensing process increases the security and prevents incidents like this.”
Beyea said that lab agents now must go through a much stricter background check that includes fingerprinting, and that labs require strict security to be in compliance with state regulations.
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“Since (the incident), MCR Labs has changed processes and installed a great deal more security equipment inside the labs to prevent this happening again,” Beyea said.
Kahn declined to go into details of the theft, saying only that the employee who had been accused of stealing had been fired.
“We are very pleased with today’s developments and are excited to contribute to the growth of a safe cannabis market in Massachusetts,” Kahn said in an emailed statement.
Though Flanagan voted against the license, other commissioners applauded the processes put in place, and said they were glad the commission had known about the incident in the course of its review.
“This is exactly how we anticipated this process would work,” said Commissioner Britte McBride.
The commission also unanimously approved a final application for CDX Analytics in Salem.
Both labs will have to get their employees approved to work in the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, and will have to undergo a final inspection from the commission before being allowed to test recreational marijuana.
The two labs are half of the four currently operating in the state’s medical marijuana market. The commission said Thursday that a third lab was in the process of filing a completed application.