Christopher Hudalla fingered a 300-milligram vial of a lime green liquid that in part containedcannabinoids - the chemical components of marijuana - and then examined it.
"It's a beautiful green," said Dorian DesLauriers.
"It is," Hudalla acknowledged.
The two men were in the spacious back rec room of DesLauriers' Constitution Boulevard software company, standing in a partitioned section that had been converted into a laboratory.
There, DesLauriers started ProVerde Laboratories, an analytical company he hopes will not only revolutionize the stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s medical marijuana industry, but also change the way doctors study the curative aspects of the drug.
ProVerde next month moves into a new 16,000-square foot facility on Fortune Boulevard in Milford, where it will test for safety and potency samples of marijuana grown by many of the dispensaries planning to open this summer throughout the state.
On Monday, DesLauriers and Hudalla, the company's "chief scientific officer," discussed ProVerde and its testing process as well as how marijuana testing has evolved over the years.
Hudalla spent 14 years at the Waters Corporation in Milford, which manufactures and designs analytical technologies.
He left after DesLauriers, a close friend, explained his desire to break into the medical marijuana testing industry.
Waters, Hudalla said, specializes in manufacturing instruments for chemical analyses like gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
He had been working to find applications for a new technology, commercialized about two years ago, that uses liquid carbon dioxide to separate a mixture into its various components.
The technology, called "UltraPerformance" convergence chromatography, had never before been used to test cannabis. But, he said, the drug is perfect for the process because of its many components or cannabinoids (it has between 80 and 100), which the technology can separate and quantify.
Compared to other testing methods, UltraPerformance convergence chromatography provides a more detailed, accurate profile of marijuana extract.
DesLauriers said this allows dispensaries to issue proper doses and recommend the right pot strain.
For instance, he said, a component of marijuana known as "CBD" has shown to help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy. However, in taking the drug, they would not need a high dosage of THC, pot's psychoactive ingredient.
"Children respond exceptionally well to high amounts of CBD, but you don't want to give them too much THC," Hudalla explained. "You don't want have your kid stoned."
ProVerde has purchased most of its testing equipment from Waters. The Franklin location, while not ideal, has given DesLauriers and Hudalla a place to refine the many procedures, from testing for heavy metals to creating profiles for different strains.
The marijuana they have used as samples came from licensed caregivers or people with permission from their doctor to use it, such as DesLauriers, because their staff cannot legally handle the drug. The state Department of Health has not released guidelines yet for the laboratories.
In its regulations for medical marijuana, the agency has mandated that dispensaries develop a chemical profile of their products and test them for mold, mildew and heavy metals. And testing must be done by independent, certified laboratories.
"We will probably work with more dispensaries than anyone in Massachusetts," DesLauriers said, adding that ProVerde had lobbied the agency to put in place many of its testing requirements.
According to Hudalla, the appeal of ProVerde lies in its science - it will employ microbiologists with advanced degrees and trained lab technicians. The company, he said, is the best example of one that applies a "new technology to a new field."
"The testing industry nationwide is not dominated by scientists," he said. "As a whole, people don't have research backgrounds. There's a methodology: you don't just run a sample."
"All the testing has been low-tech," he added. "But now we have a new era in legislation, and public perception of marijuana is much more favorable; so as this industry has evolved, analytical instrumentation has made leaps and bounds, but the two haven't been put together until fairly recently."
DesLauriers said he wants to share the company's resources with doctors and researchers examining the medicinal uses marijuana to give them a betterdetailed picture of the drug.
"We want them to have information they've never had before," he said.
Reference: Milford Daily News