Dept. of Agriculture, Liquor & Cannabis Board bring marijuana pesticide testing to Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash.--Yakima is now home to a laboratory that focuses on testing for illegal pesticides in marijuana.

State leaders held a tour of the new facility on Thursday as they hope to get more information on a product that continues to sell well in stores.

"This is the first lab of its kind in the country and perhaps even in the world," said Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) deputy director Peter Antolin.

A lab that helps ensure recreational marijuana is safe before it hits the shelves.

The new facility at the Department of Agriculture will test pesticide use from pot producers, but only one problem.

"It doesn't have a lot of research, it doesn't have the development," said Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) chemistry lab program manager Michael Firman.

The WSLCB is giving the WSDA over $1.1 million for this venture.

New equipment and staff have been added for this specific testing.

The WSLCB certifies 16 labs in the state that test for potency, but none of them look into pesticide use.

"We didn't know how big the problem is and so this is a means to help us identify how significant the issue of pesticides are but again this is more of a shot across the bow to the industry," said Antolin.

For now, only samples that have complaints of illegal pesticide use will get tested.

The Board says they'll cover all statewide producers, including the 72 in Yakima County in the next several years.

Testing marijuana itself though isn't like looking into the chemistry of your normal crops.

"It does have some challenges. It is a more difficult matrix than a lettuce or a cantaloupe," Firman said.

He adds they'll develop their own methods of testing along the way.

Those could be shared with other states who may allow their own recreational sales in the future.

But the ultimate goal for everyone involved is making sure tainted pot stays out of stores and the customer's hands.

"Our objective here is to try to ensure the product that reaches the consumer is as healthy as it can be," Antolin said.

According to the WSLCB, there's been over a billion dollars worth of retail marijuana sales in Washington since last July.

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