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N.B. medical marijuana test lab sees opportunity in legalization

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WATCH ABOVE: A New Brunswick based lab is hoping to expand its operations once pot is legal in Canada. As Global’s Shelley Steeves reports, the lab sees legalization as a way to grow the provincial economy – Aug 30, 2016

A New Brunswick-based medical marijuana test lab is hoping to expand its operations once pot is legal in Canada.

New Brunswick’s Research and Productivity Council currently conducts quality control tests for licensed medical marijuana producers across Canada, and the crown corporation sees legalization as an opportunity to grow the provincial economy.

“We are positioning ourselves to making sure that we can grow with that demand with facilities and people,” said RPC’s executive director Eric Cook.

Cook says most people are unaware that tucked away inside the New Brunswick lab, scientists are already conducting quality and grade testing for about half of the licensed medical marijuana producers in the country.

READ MORE: Fredericton marijuana dispensary hopes to set high standards for industry ahead of legalization

“Health Canada has designated a bunch of tests that licensed producers have to a pass before selling their product. They include micro, so yeast and mould and bacteria,” said RPC lead chemist Troy Smith.

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Smith added that RPC also tests product potency.

“We essentially test how strong it is, so the percentage of THC that might be in a cannabis product that is what we give them,” said Smith.

READ MORE: N.B. government invests $4M in medical marijuana production facility

Smith says only a handful of labs in the country are capable of conducting pathogen and grade testing for medical marijuana, something he sees as an economic opportunity for the province.

If and when pot is legalized, Smith said RPC’s lab is fully capable of doing grading for recreational marijuana too, and they’re already lobbying government to make independent testing mandatory.

“I believe that that product that is going to be for recreation use will probably be tested just as much as this medicinal marijuana is and it will probably be regulated by Health Canada. So the opportunity for testing and lab growth is there,” Smith said.

“If legalization occurs there could be a lot of job growth for not only our lab but producers. It could mean hiring of scientists you know people with organic chemistry backgrounds.”

READ MORE: Pot legalization in Canada may lead to spike in drug-impaired driving: document

He believes the marijuana grading system would act much like alcohol content labels that are currently required on booze sold in Canada, so that consumers know exactly what they are purchasing.

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“Anything moving forward that will be sold will likely have to be labeled with the THC content,” said Smith.

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