weather icon Clear

Nevada officials cracking down on marijuana testing labs

Updated January 24, 2018 - 8:02 pm

Nevada regulators are cracking down on marijuana testing labs, as nearly half of the state’s marijuana labs have had their license suspended in the past five months.

Since the Nevada Tax Department took over the marijuana regulation on July 1, four of the state’s nine cannabis testing facilities have had their license suspended — three since late-December. The Tax Department has never suspended the license of any marijuana retail store, cultivator or producer.

“Our aim is to address issues early — well before anything rises to the level of a public health or safety concern,” Tax Department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein said. “Independent testing labs serve an essential function as quality assurance before products reach the public. We want them to understand we have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to regulatory noncompliance, even in cases where good lab practices are not followed but there is no imminent public health concern.”

DigiPath Labs — which has run into regulatory problems once before — is the latest lab to be suspended.

“Effective January 19, 2018, the Department has suspended the license of DigiPath Labs, Inc. in Las Vegas. This lab cannot operate while their license is suspended. No marijuana establishments should send samples for testing to this lab until further notice. The Department will notify you when the license has been reinstated and the licensee can resume operating.”

Klapstein said the DigiPath’s suspension came after state inspectors discovered lab was not “following proper procedures” set out in the state’s marijuana regulations, but did not provide details about which procedures were violated.

DigiPath President and Chief Operating Officer Todd Denkin issued a statement Monday indicating that the business will submit a “Plan of Correction” to the Tax Department in an effort to be reinstated.

“We remain committed to the health and safety of the public and have always taken our role seriously as the gatekeeper between producers and consumers, to provide a valid certificate of analysis on all cannabis products coming through our lab prior to reaching the public,” Denkin said. “We are grateful to the Department of Taxation for their input and are working aggressively with state regulators to correct all of the issues raised by their review of our operations.”

But this isn’t the first brush up with regulators for DigiPath Labs.

Clark County commissioners considered revoking the lab’s license in June after DigiPath sent email blasts advertising another company’s $30 “cannabis-infused dining experience” and “cannabis cocktail hour.” The event was eventually canceled.

In lieu of a revocation, commissioners agreed to let DigiPath donate $50,000 to Roseman University of Health Sciences for an ongoing pilot study on drug abuse among children, create and distribute a free handbook on Nevada’s marijuana laws and host 12 free education lectures on marijuana laws.

‘Growing pains’

Certified Ag Lab in Sparks and RSR Analytical Laboratories in Las Vegas in late December were each suspended for not following proper procedures, but were reinstated on Jan. 4 and Jan. 3 respectively, according to Klapstein.

Randy Gardner, managing member for Certified Ag, told the Review-Journal that the state suspended the license because auditors didn’t agree with how they conducted follow-up tests for samples that came back positive for mold.

When mold was found in a sample, the company conducted a second test to make sure it wasn’t a false positive, Gardner said. However, the law requires labs to immediately notify the state if a product fails any test.

Gardner said he thinks the state is trying to get all of the labs in Nevada to operate in a uniform manner, but that it’s been a struggle as both sides are learning to navigate the new regulations. But, Gardner said, he hopes there will be more opportunity for businesses and inspectors to discuss problems before they rise to the level of suspensions.

“It’s growing pains,” Gardner said. “I think (the state) is trying their best to make sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing. And I applaud them for trying to get everyone on the same sheet of music.”

Others in the industry see the recent suspensions as a sign that the state is taking public health concerns seriously and ensuring that marijuana sold in the Nevada is free of harmful pathogens and parasites.

“You don’t see this in any other market because our Department of Taxation is going above and beyond to make sure everyone’s doing this on up and up,” said Jason Sturtsman, a cultivation license holder who also sits on the Nevada Independent Cannabis Laboratory Advisory Committee.

“The state of Nevada and Department of Taxation are doing everything possible to look out for the the safety of consumers,” Sturtsman added.

In August, G3 Labs in Las Vegas was the first recreational marijuana company to have its licensed suspended. Unlike Certified Ag and RSR, G3 has not been reinstated by the state.

That suspension led to G3’s chief science officer and lab director, Dr. Chao-Hsiung Tung, stepping down from Clark County’s Green Ribbon Advisory Panel as well as him being replaced as president of the Nevada Independent Cannabis Laboratory Advisory Committee.

Nevada officials have not provided details on the why G3 was suspended.


Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Nevada marijuana license ruling could come next week

A Nevada judge said Friday she expects next week to finish hearing a case involving dozens of companies that lost bids to open new retail pot stores asking her to stop the state from licensing more marijuana businesses.

California to increase enforcement against illegal pot shops

California is planning to intensify its enforcement against the state’s thriving illegal marijuana market, including launching an ad campaign Friday that urges consumers to seek out licensed shops with safe products.

Officials raid 247 Colorado homes growing black market pot

Authorities said Friday they raided hundreds of black market marijuana operations in Colorado that flouted the state’s cannabis law by growing tens of thousands of plants in Denver-area homes and selling the drugs out of state.