Alaska marijuana testing labs being audited

Published: Jan. 24, 2018 at 12:02 PM AKST
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The Marijuana Control Board has asked a state to audit two marijuana testing facilities in Alaska amid concerns of discrepancies in potency-testing results, as a new chairman was elected to lead the group charged with regulating the state's legal marijuana industry.

Mark Springer, of Bethel, replaces Peter Mlynarik as leader of the Marijuana Control Board, with the latter having resigned following a Dept. of Justice release rescinding the Cole Memo. Mlynarik also said the department's decision removed the "underpinning" on which Alaska's industry is based.

Former board member Brandon Emmett was elected vice chair, and Gov. Bill Walker selected North Slope Borough Police Chief Travis Welch to fill the vacant seat. Welch was introduced as a board member Wednesday.

"I respect and appreciate the work of all the board members I've been working with," said Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office. "I think they're all terrific, and I think they could all handle it, so I was going to be happy with whoever was elected."

McConnell also said the testing facility audits are being conducted by the State of Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Health Laboratory.

"There's a lot of urgency to resolving this issue," she said. "We've been trying to figure out what we could do."

The Marijuana Control Board earlier this month issued a "public service announcement" about testing inconsistencies. "Recently, the board has been made aware of inconsistencies in test results," the group wrote. "In one case, the two licensed testing facilities reported significantly different levels of THC from samples of the same edible product. In another case, one testing facility found a potentially dangerous mold on a product but the other testing facility failed to detect it."

In the same release, the board

McConnell said she believes it will take time for Alaska to find level footing when it comes to the marijuana industry in the state.

"There are some issues that will come up in the future the board will have to address," she said. "I think we're still in that growing and establishment phase. It's still going to be another year or two... before we know what normal is."