US (VT): State to open its own cannabis test lab to oversee budding industry

State regulators want to build a cannabis testing lab to help them oversee the fast-growing legal cannabis market.

The Vermont Cannabis Control Board's request for nearly $1 million and three new positions comes as it investigates contaminated cannabis that made it through several state-imposed safeguards and onto store shelves. The board pulled the pesticide-laden product, grown by Holland Cannabis after a consumer said it made him slightly ill.

During the prolonged debate about legalizing cannabis in Vermont, advocates argued that a regulated market would be safer for consumers, who would know what they were ingesting. But just three public labs are currently licensed in the state and, until last month, only one could run all the tests required before a product can be sold. That's created a major choke point in the supply chain and put added pressure on entrepreneurs who are eager for a return on their investments.

"It's completely inoperable," said Geoffrey Pizzutillo, the co-founder and executive director of the Vermont Growers Association, which represents some 80 members. "Because testing is taking a long time, we're seeing the bad faith actors take advantage of that. And the good faith actors are saying, 'Listen, I have an agricultural commodity; it has a shelf life. The more I wait, the more the value goes down. So it's creating a tense situation." 


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