Business is looking bright for a Mesa marijuana testing lab that monitors the quality of products for dispensaries, growers, manufacturers and medical cardholders.
C4 Laboratories, at 1930 S. Alma School Rd., is the first of its kind in the city and tests products for potency, terpenes, yeast, mold, solvent by-products, fungicides, pesticides and heavy metals. The goods tested range from cannabis flowers, to oils, edibles and lip balms.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state has more than 150,000 medical marijuana patients — and data show continuing signs of growth.
Armed with a staff of multidisciplinary scientists, C4 guarantees accurate test results and quality product reviews in a state that, until recently, didn’t require dispensaries to test their bud.
“Our intention since we got into this was to ensure that patients get what they paid for — that it’s clean and safe,” said C4 Founder/CEO Ryan Treacy, adding:
“For them to be able to come into a place like this where there are trained, educated, qualified scientists and people that truly understand the chemistry and science behind cannabis.”
With an al-la-carte-style menu of services, costs can range from $40 to $170 per sample depending on the test. Veterans, first responders, pediatrics and the terminally ill can opt for free testing.
Treacy’s team also provides full consultations and analytical reviews of the results free of charge to help translate the date into “easy-to-understand” information.
“Patient protection through true sciences, that’s our tagline,” Treacy said.
On top of testing, C4 works with manufacturers on product development and optimization and collaborates with cultivators on grow analytics.
Some of the services offered include mold culture testing, viral detection with sentinel plants and analysis of environmental conditions.
Treacy said he was inspired to get into the industry through his own personal experience with marijuana.
“I struggled greatly with chronic pain,” he said. “I’ve had literally a dozen surgeries on my legs, ankles, knees and back and I wasn’t coping with the pain well.”
“I was happy to finally be able to turn and see cannabis for the medicine it was and lift up that veil...I didn’t feel guilty anymore,” he continued. “If I can run a business by testing for the dispensaries and ensuring the patients have clean products — I mean that’s filling up both cups.”
The most common uses for medical marijuana, according to the Harvard Health Blog, are for pain control and debilitating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
It’s also considered a safer option than using opiates due to its less addictive properties.
Although C4 is now in its fifth year, the company experienced a rough start in the beginning, said Treacy, because Arizona was the only state in the country that didn’t have some form of quality-control law.
“In that first year or two we struggled greatly,” he added. “People weren’t testing as much as I’d hoped they would.”
When clients did come in to get their products tested, their products were often contaminated or not as potent as advertised.
Salmonella, E. coli and different types of mold were among the most common contaminants.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily that all the operators out there are nefarious and doing this on purpose,” Treacy said. “It’s just because there hasn’t been a program so they didn’t know that it was such a problem.”
But that all changed two weeks ago when the Arizona state legislature unanimously passed SB 1494, which would establish the state’s first contaminant safety standards for medical marijuana.
“I thought I was dreaming to — I had a nice little cry,” said Treacy. “It’s been a war. We have put our heart and soul into this. It is going to allow the industry to continue to grow, and in the end, to better serve the patients.”
Treacy, who co-founded the Arizona Cannabis Laboratory Association (ACLA), said he spent over two years lobbying for this type of legislation at the capitol.
The bill directs the Arizona Department of Health Services to create safety standards that ensure medical marijuana is free of harmful levels of mold and pesticides.
If signed by the governor, SB 1494 will go into effect November 2020.
Treacy said that he thinks there is still “a lot of work to be done on both sides of the fence” though, and that Arizona will face a more challenging learning curve than the other states that had testing mandates from the get-go.
“I think Arizona is going to be uniquely challenged. We’ve had eight years to reinforce perhaps bad habits or ones that were not taking into account the sanitation and safety of the end product,” he said.
C4 is now gearing up for the next phases of this transition and plans to expand to a larger facility, invest in more equipment and hire more staff.
The lab is also in the process of earning its International Standards Organization (ISO) accreditation, which establishes more proficient record-keeping and adds “detailed traceability and visibility.”
“I want to make sure that the foundation is real solid,” Treacy continued. “I already feel like it is solid, but you can always make things better. I feel like we’re taking that step to make that better.”
Once approved, C4 will need to get re-accredited annually.
Information: c4lab.com or 480-219-6460.