Medical marijuana: Ohio’s first test lab cleared to open

A medical marijuana testing lab in northeast Ohio is the first to get final approval from the state to begin operations, a development that will finally put product on dispensary shelves.

North Coast Testing Laboratories in Streetsboro was granted certification Thursday to begin testing the product just starting to amass in Ohio’s fledgling program.

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Lack of an approved testing lab has been one factor slowing delivery of medical marijuana to patients in Ohio’s program, which was due to start Sept. 8.

“Getting a lab with its certificate of operation is really the last piece from a state perspective of now having a clear product supply line,” said Mark Hamlin, a senior policy advisor at the Ohio Department of Commerce.

Located in Portage County, the North Coast lab was inspected Wednesday and passed an additional test Thursday morning before receiving its certificate, Hamlin said.

Medical marijuana will be for sale “really, really soon,” Hamlin said.

“The way I have been describing it is right around the new year, maybe a little after,” he said.

Hamlin said the initial supply will be scarce and dependent on the timing of cultivators and others in the industry including processors, none of which are yet approved to operate.

“We know the initial product will be very small,” Hamlin said. “It will be limited as well and it will be plant material only as we wait for processors to come online.”

A testing lab at Hocking Technical College was also inspected this week but has not yet received approval to open. Provisional licenses for testing labs have also been awarded to ACT Laboratories, Battelle Memorial Institute and Central State University.

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Last week, the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary was approved to open.

CY+, located in the village of Wintersville, near Steubenville is the first of 56 state-licensed medical marijuana outlets to receive a certificate of operation.

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Wintersville is located about three hours east of Dayton on Interstate 70.

The dispensary is owned by Cresco Labs, which also owns the medical marijuana growing operation near Yellow Springs.

“Receiving the first approval to operate is a major milestone in the transformation of the cannabis program in Ohio,” said Charles Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs. “This is also a big step forward for Cresco along our path of unparalleled speed to market, powerful influence in industry development, and proven execution in consumer markets.”

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