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
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
More tainted marijuana found in Las Vegas

The Nevada Department of Taxation on Monday issued a health notice after batches of marijuana sold from four Las Vegas dispensaries were found to have fungus, bacteria and high levels of mold and yeast.

Nevada marijuana official placed on leave

A top Nevada marijuana official who has faced criticism over his conduct during the state’s cannabis licensing process was placed on administrative leave last week.

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.