A lab technician weighs out a sample of flower for testing. Credit: Submitted / MCR Labs

Adult use sales have not begun in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island, as cannabis testing requirements in all three states face possible updates by the end of the year. 

Adult use cannabis is legal to consume in Vermont, but regulators still have to finalize the rules for the industry before operators can apply for licenses and begin sales. 

Neither New Hampshire nor Rhode Island have legalized adult use cannabis, but both states currently have legalization bills working through their respective state legislatures. 

Regulators in Vermont are still in the process of finalizing the rules that will include testing requirements and procedures, but Endyne Labs in the northeast corner of Vermont is preparing to be one of the state’s cannabis testing labs. 

Endyne is already certified by the state to test potency in hemp products. It is one of only two non-state run labs in Vermont certified to test hemp. The company plans to get certified to include contaminant testing once it is able to start taking cannabis samples, according to company Vice President Rod Lamothe.  

Lamothe said that the testing requirements for adult use cannabis will be a positive thing, but it could also be a significant hurdle for the nascent market in terms of keeping the cost of cannabis down. 

“It’s going to bring the cost of the product up. Because obviously, you’re going to have to get your money back,” said Lamothe. “I mean, you spend a half a million dollars on a piece of equipment. Let’s say there’s five hundred growers and they’ve got twenty samples each a month and you divide half million by, you know, with a payback of maybe two or three years, you’re still looking at three or four hundred dollars per sample.” 

That said, he has already acquired his testing equipment and said he is looking forward to when he finally fires it up for the adult use market.  

“I’m optimistic that they’ll get it all straightened out,” he said. “These things take time and you just have to have patience.”

Over in Rhode Island, the state is in the process of re-working its cannabis testing requirements even as legislatures work on an adult use legalization bill. 

“The state of Rhode Island is in the process of rolling out its regulatory testing program, so with regards to what is currently being tested, it is gradually changing,” said Stuart Procter, co-founder of PureVita Labs, in West Warwick, RI. 

Currently, flower material is tested for cannabinoid profile, water activity, microbiological contaminants, and toxic metals. Testing for residual pesticides will be required by June. Concentrates forgo the water activity and microbiological testing, but will require residual pesticides as of June, while the state has yet to say when it will require testing for residual solvents in edibles. 

Procter said that he anticipates that microbials will continue to be a concern for regulators, especially since he has noticed that roughyl 25% of the samples that PureVitas tests, fail due mold and yeast exceeding the state’s 10,000 colony-forming unit per gram threshold. 

“We have not been given any guidance with regards to any changes that may occur when or if recreational marijuana becomes available to the general public, but I would anticipate that full panel testing of all products would be required at this time,” said Procter.

New Hampshire’s medical cannabis program only counts three companies with a combined seven dispensaries throughout the state. 

That could change as the state legislature is working on an adult use legalization bill that would create a state-operated cannabis monopoly, similar to how the Granite State operates its liquor industry. 

“The New Hampshire Alternative Treatment Centers are not permitted to test their own products,” said Michael Holt, New Hampshire Therapeutic Cannabis Program administrator. “They are required to have their products tested at an independent licensed lab.”

Through email, Holt said that the state currently has one licensed independent cannabis testing lab, but did not include that lab’s name. 

New Hampshire requires harvest batch testing and concentrate batch testing, as well as quality assurance testing of final products. Testing must include cannabinoid profiles and checking for contamination from microbiologicals, mycotoxins, heavy metals, residual solvents, and pesticides. 

The state’s medical cultivation centers must also have their water and planting soil tested annually for contaminants.

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...