By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Indo Laboratories, a new venture for Founder and CEO Nicholas Masso, is seeking a special permit to operate a third-party independent marijuana testing lab at 257 Simarano Drive, Suite 100, in Marlborough. The government mandates that marijuana cultivators and retail dispensaries have an independent third-party lab continually test for “potency and purity.” The mandates further include the need for a special permit with an approved Community Host Agreement from the city in which the lab is located before the Mass. Department of Public Health/Cannabis Control Commission can issue a license to operate.
Masso said he’d like to be in operating by the end of this year.
Masso and Indo Labs Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Bilotti outlined the plans for their currently leased 10,000-square-foot property on Simarano drive. During a public hearing Sept. 23, there were questions from city councilors on topics including security of samples, hiring, waste disposal and potential building modifications, but there was no opposition from the public. The lab will be testing products from locations all over the state; they will simply be operating in Marlborough.
According to state data, there are a handful of labs currently operating, but not enough to keep up with the demand.
“I’ve spoken with cultivators and dispensaries across the state who are frustrated because there aren’t enough independent testing labs and its taking months to get test results,” Masso said.
He told councilors with the automation and processes Indo Laboratories has set in place, the staff could turn samples around in five days. The longer the turnaround time the longer it takes for dispensaries to sell product and bring in local and state revenue.
“This is also a big safety issue,” Masso said prior to the meeting. “Consumers need to know that the product they’re buying meets state standards.”
He explained to the Council that they will test for solvents, heavy metals, pathogens (such as E. coli and fungus), foreign materials and pesticides. The latter, he said, “is an issue in Massachusetts.”
After speaking with his industry contacts in California, which requires testing for 39 pesticides, Masso noted that Massachusetts “only mandates we test for nine but it doesn’t take any more time to test for 39.”
Council David Doucette asked if they were going to test for all known pesticides regardless of the nine required by the state. Masso explained that they plan to do so and will make it available to the clients who would like to review it but that the state only requires a pass or fail result. Any failed sample test requires the cultivator or distributor to destroy the entire production batch.
Masso, a microbiologist, said they plan to test all marijuana products (flowers, edibles, etc.) from locations across the state and their testing will include all CBD products derived from hemp to check THC levels.
Councilor Mark Oram expressed concern about waste disposal and security. Masso reviewed the lab’s layout and explained that the samples will be destroyed immediately and kept inside their locked facility in large drums which will then be picked up by a waste disposal.
“Nothing will go outside of the building,” he said.
With respect to building security, Billotti said they have a multitude of cameras, as well as a remote 24-hour security company.
The council voted to send the permit request to the Urban Affairs Committee while the plan is also being reviewed by the city’s Professional Site Review Committee which includes the fire and police chiefs, among others city officials.
Indo Laboratories plans to hire 20 people by the end of the first year of operation with “approximately 25 percent being from the local area.”
Mayor Arthur Vigeant, in a June 11 letter to the council, stated that there are no zoning issues and he is not opposed to the operation of the lab.