OREGON: Cascadia Labs is nestled amid ornamental fruit trees in a quiet office park on the north end of Bend. In this lab, employees with backgrounds in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries spend their days testing a variety of products with one common ingredient, consumed by thousands of patients across Oregon: medical marijuana.
Cascadia Labs co-owner Jeremy Sackett, 32, is just one of the entrepreneurs who has joined Oregon’s medical pot industry, where new regulations aimed at increasing quality and safety have helped spawn businesses headed up by people with backgrounds in science and the legal profession. Sackett worked at biotechnology companies until a year ago, when he started Cascadia Labs LLC with his wife, Ashley Preece-Sackett, 34. The company now has customers across the state who send samples via a medical courier service. The couple recently opened an office in Portland to receive samples, and Sackett is building a lab in Portland, too.
It is a sign of how quickly the medical marijuana landscape is changing in Oregon that Cascadia Labs is expanding at the same time Sackett is helping to draft a law that would grant the state authority to regulate these labs. New regulations on medical marijuana, passed by the Legislature in 2013 and implemented this year, are supposed to provide patients with safe access to cannabis products. But a state official involved with the program said the lack of regulatory authority over labs in the law prevents the state from ensuring medical pot is safe.
Tom Burns, director of pharmacy programs for the Oregon Health Authority, said that the state’s lack of authority to regulate pot testing labs essentially means that no one is testing the labs that test medical pot.