CLEARFIELD – ACT Laboratories, one of two state-approved medical marijuana testing centers approved in 2017, is nearing the one-year post approval status mark.
According to Jeff Nemeth, ACT Laboratories Inc. chief executive officer, the program is doing well and things in Clearfield have been running smoothly.
“We’re very excited to be there … the timeframe has been great for us. We’re growing with the program,” he said.
The decision to locate in Clearfield was mainly geographical. His company chose this area due to its central location in Pennsylvania.
Company officials chose the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in particular, because they believe the rules and regulations are set up very well and will make for a great system.
“I think the program is set up with a great see to sell tracking system,” Nemeth said. “The product is sent to a see to sell tracking system and you know … patient safety is first and foremost…”
He believes the laboratory and the state will be able to have open communication, which will in turn lead to a very successful program.
ACT Laboratories is also accredited in Illinois and Michigan and he believes Pennsylvania’s set up will actually make for an easier start.
“They did the program backwards in Michigan … they approved the state ballot initiative and it was kind of left up for interpretation by the person … what the law meant,” Nemeth explained.
According to him, there was no clear structure and a lot of back-tracking had to be done in order to get the proper zoning, licensing and approvals in place.
He feels Pennsylvania has done it in the opposite way, and that having clear guidelines makes it easier for the lab to follow.
“They set the program up with the regulations first, unlike Michigan,” he said, “and there were the procedures to follow.”
He also describes those rules and regulations of Pennsylvania as “great” and notes regulations were a big part of choosing to locate here.
ACT Laboratories is also interested in potential upcoming licenses with universities.
Nemeth said the commonwealth has university licensing that is coming out shortly, and with that comes a chance to do more research, which can put more legitimacy behind the program.
The company is also considering participating in some white papers or studies with the testing, but there’s still uncertainty as to if that’s going to be possible.
“Anywhere where we can support patient safety and be part of that is exciting to us,” Nemeth said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to participate in the program to the best of our abilities and to help out wherever we can.”
Though Act Laboratories may not have had issues in choosing Pennsylvania for their location, they may face other challenges.
Across the country, there are concerns about potential contamination and lack of national standards for purity and potency testing of medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana testing varies by company. With testing and laws varying by state and company, there is no national standard, but many test for factors, such as contaminants, potency and CBD to THC ratios.
With medical marijuana testing estimated to continue growing in terms of profitability, there are also concerns that labs may rush or pass samples that don’t meet quality standards.
The global cannabis testing market is expected to reach USD 1,416.3 million by 2021 from USD 822.0 million in 2016, according to reporting by High Times Magazine.
With no unified national standards and states rolling out new programs, it may be hard for people to determine if labs are reputable, and in such a market, not every lab will maintain high standards.
Enforcement of standard, which will be up to each state, will play a major role in maintaining reputability.
ACT Laboratories will face state quality-control standards of Pennsylvania, a state which Nemeth feels has great regulations in place that will help to avoid some of the issues seen in other areas.
He also feels the company’s accreditation, with Perry Johnson, and the pilots and testing that went into receiving the accreditation, make his company stand out as having good quality standards.
As far as ACT Labs’ Pennsylvania program goes, Nemeth doesn’t foresee that they will have any major issues meeting law demands or quality standards.
Of the state laws, he said, “The rules are very clear. The limits are very clear on what we’re looking for – that makes science very easy when you have a good set of rules to follow.
“I think it’s a very professional … with the program they’re setting the bar really high and that’s what we like to do, too.”
He noted that they have the same high expectations of the testing within the laboratory.
Nemeth went on to say that, “It does take skilled professionals to do this program … it kind of breaks that whole perception of it … that this is medicine … that it’s not just for recreation, it’s more about the medicine.”
He said that bringing that kind of attitude toward the program is very important. In addition to meeting quality standards, Nemeth mentioned both company growth across the United States and job growth in Clearfield as potential outcomes.
“We’re looking to keep kind of chunking away at the Midwest,” he said. The company has applications out in Ohio and has hopes for becoming involved with West Virginia when it opens up.
Company officials also hope to continue the relationship in Clearfield and keep growing. Nemeth said they are bringing jobs to Clearfield, having brought four skilled-labor jobs so far, and are excited about the prospect of continuing to hire locally as well.
“We’re trying to hire right from local universities, the students with Bachelor’s degrees or chemistry degrees,” he said.
According to Nemeth, they will look to hire in various company sections in the future. He said the growth has been slow but steady.
As the program and the patient count grow, Nemeth said the company will grow, too. It aims to continue to be science-based and bring quality jobs to the community and “wants to be a team player.”