The background of Massachusetts’ marijuana testing director has sparked concern among industry observers, who are already cautious about the state’s treatment of marijuana companies. James Kocis assumed the role of director of testing on the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) in October 2022, following years of experience in the marijuana testing sector.
During a recent legislative hearing, a lobbyist representing local testing labs criticized the CCC for being unaccountable and unpredictable. Additionally, a testing industry executive raised concerns about “a significant issue” of marijuana businesses seeking favorable lab results, questioning the wisdom of hiring a former lab employee to address the situation because it may lead to potential conflicts.
Prior to his appointment as the state’s marijuana testing director, Kocis held a managerial position at Green Analytics, a marijuana lab in Framingham. Now Green Analytics’ practices have faced scrutiny, contributing to a broader problem involving inflated THC results and the practice of “lab shopping.”
The lab has undergone multiple name changes and was previously affiliated with the national testing brand Steep Hill Labs until earlier this year when the latter announced its exit from the marijuana testing industry. In September, Kocis stepped down from Green Analytics, which was operating under the name Steep Hill at the time. Subsequently, he joined the CCC the following month.
The CCC defended the hiring decision through a spokesperson, emphasizing Kocis’ valuable industry experience, which rendered him a competent candidate for the position. The spokesperson asserted that Kocis was fully transparent during the hiring process and has since severed all financial and professional ties with his former employers and companies.
The issue of inflated THC numbers at testing labs has been a longstanding concern nationwide, with allegations that some labs appease dispensaries and producers by providing higher THC percentages. The lack of standardized procedures and limited state oversight in Massachusetts led to marijuana product labels overstating THC levels by up to one-third, according to an investigation conducted by CommonWealth magazine in December 2022. The magazine also uncovered instances of contaminated products being sold in dispensaries.
Speaking anonymously, a number of observers and participants in the Massachusetts marijuana sector said Green Analytics was well-known for being a lab where a marijuana company could obtain favorable results.
Massachusetts lawmakers are presently deliberating the introduction of additional oversight for state marijuana regulators. Two bills proposed earlier in the year in the state legislature would establish an independent auditor, separate from CCC Executive Director Shawn Collins, to investigate claims concerning the agency.
While these concerns about the official appointed are debated, the industry is likely to take shape, and entities with operations such as those of Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) are likely to do brisk business in this budding industry.
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