- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A company has applied to be Juneau’s first marijuana testing lab, a key component for pot businesses in land-locked communities because transporting samples by air, water or mail is prohibited by federal law.

Southeast Alaska Laboratories LLC applied for a city conditional use permit and a state marijuana establishment license, the Juneau Empire (https://bit.ly/28WfumQ ) reported Thursday.

Loren Jones, a member the Marijuana Control Board, speaking as a private citizen, said testing facility applications are a big deal for other marijuana businesses. Without labs, cultivators would be unable to legally transport samples to meet state testing requirements, he said.

A second potential lab, Glacier Analytics, plans to turn in city and state applications next week, said co-founder Mitch Knottingham.

Transporting pot samples by car is the only real legal option for communities without licensed labs to get their products tested, he said.

“If you’re in Mat-Su, you can drive your samples to Anchorage for testing,” Jones said. “For communities in Southeast Alaska, rural Alaska, the Aleutian chain - all of those - it’s going to be problematic.”

Jessica Dreibelbis, CEO and manager of Southeast Alaska Laboratories, said others exploring marijuana commerce were happy to see her company’s application.

“When I put in my application, word got around pretty quick, and cultivators have been very appreciative,” she said. “They know without a lab here, it’s going to be very difficult for them to sell their product legally.”

James Barrett, co-owner of Rainforest Farms LLC, said he has not been worried about shipping samples for testing. In Washington and Oregon, where recreational marijuana also is legal, federal officials have allowed intrastate shipping of products, he said.

Jones said some communities have drug dogs that are trained to ignore marijuana and shipping it may be possible even if it is illegal under federal law.

“It’s not like we’re going to send a five-pound package of marijuana to the tester,” Jones said. “We’re talking about one-gram, two-gram samples.”

Barrett is more interested in a local lab for the possibilities of product development. Direct access would allow the company to go beyond mandatory testing and allow fine-tuning of the taste and effects of edible products, he said.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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