Alaska just lost one of its three cannabis testing facilities


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

One of Alaska’s three testing facilities for cannabis is closing, and it’s connected to the industry’s banking problem. Wells Fargo decided to withdraw a loan to Steep Hill Alaska after it found it was a cannabis business, and Wells Fargo has a policy, like many other banks, of not working with cannabis businesses.

“It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal,” Alaska Wells Fargo spokesman Brian Kennedy told The Seattle Times.

Under Alaska law, any cannabis that is to be sold in the state must be tested before it hits the dispensaries. Now that there are only two testing facilities left, there could be delays or other complications. However, some in the state aren’t too worried about this.

Cory Wray, director of the Alaska Cannabis Institute, told Cannabis News Box that he wishes there was only one testing facility. He said it’d be better for the state because then facilities wouldn’t be competing to produce higher and higher THC concentrations, which is what gets them more business.

“The biggest failure is on consumers,” Wray said. “Many consumers believe a product that tests higher in THC-potency is going to get them more high. Because consumers are paying a premium for THC, producers are taking their product to the lab that generates the highest THC readings. It’s a business decision.”

He said this causes labs to work toward higher and higher THC levels, which is not something the industry should be doing.

“Maybe, if there was only one lab, growers couldn’t take their product around to different labs and labs wouldn’t have to compete to produce the highest THC number,” Wray said.

Wray believes the state has “dropped the ball” when it comes to establishing proper cannabis testing. He said that the state has not set standards for these facilities, which means each facility has its own methodology and standards. He also said the sample sizes that are tested are too small, which could lead to inaccurate results.

It’s unclear if the facility that’s closing will be replaced or reopen elsewhere, but it is clear the debate over how many facilities are needed is complex. It may be time for Alaska to set real standards for how its cannabis is tested.