Pot store’s flower cupboard is bare

NETA blames shortage on lab testing delays

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE MARIJUANA STORE closest to Boston is out of marijuana flower for non-medical customers while it waits to get test results back from labs that must approve all marijuana before it’s sold in Massachusetts.

New England Treatment Access, which has locations in Brookline and Northampton, listed four strains of marijuana on its Brookline menu for Wednesday but noted that each is only available to medical patients. On its Northampton menu, NETA on Wednesday listed one strain available to non-medical users.

“Our flower test results have been significantly delayed as the state’s labs work through a testing backlog,” the company wrote below the flower section of each menu. “We are doing everything we can to work with our regulators and laboratory partners to get things back on track. We are producing flower at the same rate that we have been and we have our transport team on standby, once we have testing results we will ensure it goes right back on the menu!”

No marijuana, medical or recreational, may be sold in Massachusetts until it is tested and approved for sale by an independent testing laboratory. The Cannabis Control Commission has licensed two labs to conduct the testing for the 28 non-medical retailers it has allowed to open across Massachusetts.

The CCC said Wednesday that its guidance for retailers and dispensaries around testing requires that a sample from strain-specific 10-pound packages be tested by an independent lab before it can be sold. All marijuana must be tracked from seed to sale in the CCC’s Metrc system.

“The Commission expects licensees to continue prioritizing public health and safety as they follow Massachusetts’ law and regulations and trusts they will make the business decisions necessary to enable safe, equitable, and effective access to cannabis in our state,” the CCC said in a statement responding to questions about NETA’s flower shortage and a testing lab backlog.

The testing backlog does not appear to be affecting other retailers to the same extent as it is NETA.

Garden Remedies listed three available strains for its Newton store and two available strains at its Marlborough store. The Alternative Therapies Group stores in Salem and Salisbury on Wednesday listed nine and five strains for adult-use customers, respectively, and the Good Chemistry store in Worcester listed 20 strains available on its menu.

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Since the first retail marijuana stores opened last November, there have been two labs conducting all of the state’s product testing — CDX Analytics of Salem and MCR Labs of Framingham. The CCC has also issued a provisional license for a third testing lab, Evio Labs of Framingham, and CCC staff is still reviewing three other testing lab applications. A CCC spokesperson said Wednesday that those applications may not yet be ready for a vote of the commission.

The shortage of flower at NETA comes during a four-month ban on all vaping products in Massachusetts and after Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration told medical marijuana patients who vaped their medicine to find an alternative consumption method. The CCC requires medical dispensaries that also sell non-medical marijuana to reserve about one-third of their inventory specifically for medical patients.