On the daily, medical and recreational marijuana is tested at Medicine Creek Analytics for its safety and purity. The lab, approved by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB), is a nonprofit corporation owned and operated by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. It detects exactly what’s in the weed sold at dispensaries across the State of Washington—from potency to microbes, moisture, residual solvent and much more.
The tribe’s interest in cannabis quality control stems from its desire to develop natural medicines for treating cancer patients in its community. “The immune-compromised state of cancer patients makes the quality of medicinal marijuana very important,” the company states. Medicine Creek’s high-tech equipment can actually discern what chemicals are present at one-billionth per gram of pot. Paying mind to the sensitive needs of cancer patients requiring medical marijuana, Medicine Creek specifically tests for heavy metals, mycotoxins and pesticides.
Dr. Aaron Stancik, an industry pioneer who was instrumental in building one of the nation's first state-certified cannabis labs for testing in a recreational market, recently joined the Medicine Creek Analytics team. As Stancik told Tacoma Weekly, Israel is the only country with hospitals that prescribe, dispense and regulate standardized cannabis medicines. “…[S]o the Tribe is really thinking ahead,” Sancik said. “I don’t know of any medical clinic in the U.S. that’s prescribing cannabis and ensuring their patients receive standardized products. The tribe is in a unique position having an integrative oncology center and a cannabis lab.”
The Puyallup Tribe’s Salish Cancer Center, its brand-new cancer clinic, is housed in the same building, the Puyallup Tribal Integrative Medicine Building, with Medicine Creek Analytics. The tribe hopes to merge the two practices to support its efforts to provide holistic medical treatment to cancer patients, Daniel Duenas Jr., the tribe's executive director of cannabis, told The Stranger.
The tribe inked its historic Marijuana Compact with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in 2015, following a Washington State law outlining the compact process. The Puyallup Tribe was the third Washington tribe to solidify plans that take advantage of the 2014 U.S. Department of Justice policy, reported The News Tribune.
The WSLCB has approved 17 labs to test the safety of the state's legal weed. Medicine Creek, near Seattle, prides itself on employing “the Northwest's strongest cannabis science team” being the “gold standard” in the industry. “While some labs in Washington State seem more than willing to fudge results to facilitate business goals, we take the plight of medical users seriously, providing the following highly-accurate tests in our ISO 17025 certified lab,” states the Medicine Creek Analytics site.
Medicine Creek’s defense is valid in a market where the accuracy of state-certified labs has come under the microscope for inflating THC values and approving cannabis that should fail quality assurance tests. Data scientists, regulators overseeing the labs, and even some of the labs themselves, have accused certain labs of manipulating test results.
“Successful cannabis companies rely on quality analytics, and this is especially true for processors and edible makers. As the industry matures, successful cannabis businesses will be the ones providing a consistent, safe, quality product. This couldn't be more true than for medical marijuana where QC is everything. Consumer confidence in this industry is paramount,” Stancik said.
The tribal cannabis testing lab will additionally perform research in collaboration with the University of Washington-Tacoma.
The Puyallup Tribe last year announced plans to renovate its Stogie’s Cigar & Sports Lounge and turn it into a marijuana retail store on tribal land in Fife, about 30 miles south of Seattle. In addition to the testing lab, and the potential retail store, the tribe may obtain a license to grow and produce marijuana in the future.