Dorian Des Lauriers sniffed inside a glass jar containing a small amount of terpenes, the aromatic oils in marijuana that give the drug its distinctive smell.
Despite the sample size, the yellow substance left a pungent smell inside the jar that is similar in strength to the scent in a room filled with three pounds marijuana, Des Lauriers said on a recent Friday afternoon.
ProVerde Laboratories, a company Des Lauriers founded with his friend Christopher Hudalla, extracted the terpenes with an instrument that uses carbon dioxide at high levels of pressure to remove oils, waxes and other materials from the marijuana plant.
As business partners, Des Lauriers and Huddalla tout that piece of equipment as just one of the many things that make ProVerde, which opened this summer at, of all addresses, 420 Fortune Blvd., among the most comprehensive medical marijuana testing facilities in the country.
And soon, the pair hopes to attract a majority of the medical marijuana dispensaries planning to open for the first time this year as clients.
ProVerde's two labs hold more than $2 million worth of equipment to provide quality and safety testing for the state's medical marijuana industry. All of the lab equipment was purchased from the Milford-based Waters Corp, where Hudalla worked as an engineer.
Last year, ProVerde received the certification required by the state Department of Public Health to test medical marijuana. However, the company, which moved from Franklin, still finds itself legally in uncharted waters.
The department has not produced regulations for the labs, but it has required that dispensaries have their marijuana tested independently. Des Laurieris, a self-described entrepreneur, was part of a group that lobbied DPH to mandate testing. Before founding ProVerde, he ran a software company in Franklin.
"The state, at this point, has not given us any guidance as to how it'll oversee us," Hudalla explained. "From what we see, we have no real official license or registration with the state."
ProVerde has taken steps to remain in compliance with the law, such as having its six employees registered to use medical marijuana. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Unless IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a patient, I have no legal authority to hold, to have, to work with marijuana,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hudalla said.
When business picks up, ProVerde expects to have more than 50 employees working in their labs. With no dispensaries open in Massachusetts, the labs have done testing in Rhode Island and Maine.
ProVerde must also pay the state $500 per employee for each dispensary that wants to hire them. Part of the fee covers background checks.
DPH granted 15 dispensaries provisional approval to open. Yet just two have started growing marijuana, Des Lauriers said, and both have contracts with ProVerde.
"We're batting a thousand," he said. They were set to meet with a third dispensary, New England Treatment Access Inc., last week.
Eventually the lab will test different batches of a dispensary's medical marijuana for potency and safety. Using equipment like the one used to extract the terpenes, ProVerde can break down a sample into its different cannabinoids, or chemical components. It can also test for funguses, metals and molds.
Des Lauriers said a large component of the lab is research, especially with cannabinoids.
"By learning more about cannabinoids and combining different ones, we hope to make custom-blended medication for whatever the sickness, disease or condition is," he said.
Reference: Milford Daily News