Pot labs get green light

With no recreational product ready to test, medical marijuana will be used

STATE REGULATORS GAVE the final okay for two cannabis testing labs to begin analyzing recreational marijuana, one of the last remaining steps before retail stores can open – more than two years after voters legalized the sale of pot.

The Cannabis Control Commission on Wednesday authorized MCR Labs of Framingham and CDX Analytics of Salem to commence testing operations. Both labs have been testing medical marijuana in the state for years.

The first retail stores are expected to open in about two weeks, and the initial outlets will be medical marijuana dispensaries that have been approved to expand their operations. Under state regulations, the medical marijuana dispensaries can also transfer up to 45 percent of their inventory to the retail operations.

Because the medical pot has already been lab tested, inspectors from the cannabis commission will certify the results with the labs and spot-test some of the marijuana at the stores to determine it meets regulations for potency and contamination levels. Once that is done, the stores can open.

The clearance from the commission Wednesday for the labs to commence recreational pot testing requires a three-day waiting period to alert local officials and police and fire. Once that period passes, they can begin testing recreational marijuana once it is grown. No non-medical cultivation or manufacturing operation has yet been given the clearance to begin operations for adult use marijuana.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

Michael Kahn, president and founder of MCR Labs, said testing usually takes two to five days from a subset of product taken form a batch selected by the retailer. Once the marijuana is deemed to pass standards, the batch is certified in the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system and ready for sale.

Kahn said he knows everyone is impatient for sales to begin, but getting all the parts of the industry to work together takes time. “Everybody just wants to get it right,” he said. “I’m a chemist. I don’t know how regulations work but we’re ready on the science part.”