Over at the March 4, 2009 East Bay Express:
The Manhattan Project of Marijuana
If pot is truly medicine, shouldn’t it be standardized? Analytical Labs wants to test the potency and safety of Cali cannabis.
By David Downs
At downtown Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the hairy green buds have numbers. The new nomenclature beckons viewers from within seven gleaming glass display cases. Antiseptic white placards boast authoritative black digits. Each stands erect next to a Petri dish of high-octane “White Rhino” or “Afgooey Super Melt.” They read: 7 percent, 11 percent, 18 percent, or 21 percent. Even 80 percent.
“80 percent THC?” asks a potential customer. He’s referring to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“That’s a concentrate,” reminds Stephen DeAngelo, proud owner of the three-year-old collective. DeAngelo’s facility boasts 20,000 members and grossed more than $10 million last year. Even amid the recession, lines are a constant phenomenon and DeAngelo is looking to double his space. Hundreds of new customers sign up monthly, attracted partly by the immaculate facility: its savvy, well-paid “budtenders” and $40, eighth-ounce pot dosages. But part of the appeal is the new placards — the result of a disruptive new service by Harborside’s partners at the Analytical Laboratory Project.
“For the first time in the 3,000-year history of human cannabis consumption, consumers will be provided a scientific assessment of the safety and potency of products prior to ingesting them,” DeAngelo announced in December.
In the months since, DeAngelo’s patrons have enjoyed mankind’s most detailed product information thanks to the country’s first commercial marijuana lab. Arrest and jail remain a constant worry for him and the lab’s two owners. But they believe that if pot is truly medicine, it needs quality assurance and dosage information. The Analytical Laboratory Project wants to be the source of that information. The lab’s ultimate goal is to provide testing for half of the 300 dispensaries in California.