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Next steps for labs

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With one step in the process now completed, lab owners must next fingerprint their staff; show state inspectors they comply with regulations; pay a license fee; register in a product-tracking system; and provide the state with additional information not available when they filed their application, according to the Cannabis Control Commission.

But it seems the jury’s still out on what exactly inspectors will want to see.

Strasnick said he doesn’t think the review will be too cumbersome — pointing to the fact CDX Analytics is already up to extensive standards set by the state Department of Public Health for its medical marijuana operations — but exactly what the inspection will entail remains unclear.

MCR Labs currently handles thousands of marijuana samples all the time for medical testing, according to Kahn, who said the testing methods for his lab will be the same for both medical and recreational use.

The commission has been helpful with guidance, but, since the whole recreational marijuana industry is so new, it’s hard to know what specifically the laboratories should anticipate, he said.

Kahn thinks getting a final license is doable within a few weeks, although it’s difficult for him to pin down a firm timeline for marijuana hitting the legal market, he said.

“How should I really know exactly what they want? I haven’t done this before,” he said of the inspection. “Nobody has.”

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But looking ahead, Kahn indicated he’s very much aware of a “bottleneck” issue that’s arisen in other states where marijuana sales are legal.

In California, a limited number of testing laboratories created supply problems for the market, and similar problems surrounding testing requirements were reported in Oregon.

“Hopefully we won’t be that,” Kahn said. “It’s kind of hard to tell but the more communication we have from the state, the growers, and the processors, the less the bottlenecks will be us, my company. And that big problem that everybody else is complaining about: The solution needs to be now, not when it happens.”

While bringing laboratories on board in Massachusetts is a key step to the industry rollout, their absence is not the sole reason why the state hasn’t seen a speedier start to the retail market.

As Boston Globe marijuana reporter Dan Adams pointed out in his Aug. 18 newsletter, “This Week in Weed,” the commission had yet to review employee paperwork for marijuana workers.

Adams has also noted that manufacturers and others who have received provisional licenses have not said they’re ready for a final license to start business.

Despite the uncertainty about the inspection entails, Kahn, pointing to the fact people are still using untested marijuana, said he wants to get the laboratory’s recreational marijuana testing up and running.

“I just don’t know what the inspection phase holds for us, but I want to get it going because I believe we will make things safer for people,” he said.