The Colusa City Council is considering leasing its unused lab at the wastewater treatment plant to Colusa Certified, a possible name for a prospective new cannabis company interested in having a certified testing facility for commercial pot.
The state of California is in short supply of cannabis testing facilities, officials said, now that the California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s transitional exemption period is over and their testing requirements are now firmly in place.
The state requires all commercial cannabis products to be tested for potency, pesticide residue, microbial impurities, foreign ingredients, moisture content, and residual solvents.
Colusa City Manager Jesse Cain said the currently unused lab at the wastewater plant was built when the facility was upgraded a number of years ago, but that it has sat empty for the last three years.
“I have been approached by several people on leasing the lab for cannabis testing,” said Cain, who added that current city codes would allow for the city to enter into such an agreement.
The Colusa City Council previously said they would keep cannabis businesses operating in the city with developer agreements at arms length, but the potential for a lucrative new revenue source from an empty building may have city officials rethinking how close a relationship is too close.
“Right now we are just thinking,” Cain said.
Yet Cain reminded the City Council that the lab is on public property, unlike the manufacturing companies they have been allowed to operate in the city with developer agreements, which are on private property.
Under federal law, cannabis is still treated like every other controlled substance, such as cocaine and heroin, although City Attorney Ryan Jones believes it unlikely that the government would target cannabis businesses that comply with individual states’ marijuana laws or preempt cities from doing business with legal cannabis manufacturers.
“The laws are so far gone I don’t think the feds are interested in prosecuting this,” Jones said.
He added that although there would be nothing unlawful about the city leasing the lab, it would be question of whether the City Council wanted to do this, as the city would be more intimately involved in the cannabis industry through a property lease.
“In the past I would have said I would rather have us at a little more distant, but there is nothing illegal about it,” Jones said. “There are other jurisdictions in the state doing the same thing.”
If the city moves forward, Jones said he and Cain would draft a lease that specifically emphasizes that the company must follow all state and local laws.
The City Council gave direction for Cain to at least look into the possibility, particularly because the building is unused and located at a secure site.
“It’s a shame that the building is just sitting out their empty,” said Councilman Tom Reische. “It should be used for something.”
Cain anticipates that if the city enters into an agreement with Colusa Certified, it would still take about nine months before the lab would be accepting marijuana samples for testing.
“That is just how long it takes to get a lab certified,” he said.
Cain said cannabis testing is so backlogged throughout California, that a huge need for this type of facility exists.
He estimates the city could receive $500 a day in revenue if they move forward, potentially far more. ■