Eager to get closer to the action as marijuana legalization efforts progress in the General Assembly, a Blacksburg-based cannabis testing company has found a place to hang its lab coats in Hanover County.
ECC Test Lab, formerly known as East Coast Cannalytics, moved in January to 10329 Stony Run Lane, where it subleases 1,800 square feet from Analytics Corp., a chemical analysis lab.
ECC contracts with clients to test hemp, kratom and, more recently, medical marijuana for quality and safety.
As Virginia’s medical marijuana sector finds its footing, and with legalization of recreational-use marijuana seemingly not far behind, ECC CEO and founder Becky Hobden said it made sense to move to Central Virginia to better facilitate delivery of testing materials.
“It’s a better place for a business like this to be,” she said. “We wanted to be more centrally located and closer to our customers.”
While hemp samples can hitch a ride on the U.S. Postal Service, subject to certain conditions, to reach the lab, marijuana samples can’t do the same because the substance is illegal on the federal level.
FedEx and UPS won’t transport marijuana, though the latter will permit hemp in a non-plant form. As such, marijuana test samples are essentially required to be hand delivered and it’s helpful to be closer to the convergence of I-64 and I-95.
The company started in Blacksburg out of convenience, as that’s where Hobden lived when she founded the company in 2018.
The tests the lab does on behalf of marijuana processors are required by Virginia law to measure the potency of the cannabinoids and for contaminants, Hobden said, adding that the testing is standard across the industry and takes place in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal.
The same testing is a requirement of the state’s agriculture department for Virginia-grown hemp products for human consumption, such as CBD oil products. Not every state regulates CBD products for contaminant analysis, Hobden said.
While the four-person company plans to bolster its existing work in the hemp sector, it recently pivoted into medical marijuana testing. It works with GreenLeaf, Columbia Care and Dharma Pharmaceuticals, three of the four companies that currently hold medical marijuana processor permits from the state.
ECC Test Lab has tested hemp on behalf of Elkton-based Valley Hemp, Avila Herbals in Christiansburg and South Boston-based Golden Piedmont Labs among others. The company also plans to get into the food and beverage testing field to create a new revenue stream.
“There are a lot of food processors who need (testing) too. It’s hard to run a lab, so it makes sense to expand our customer base,” Hobden said.
ECC is at least the third out-of-town company to relocate or announce a relocation to the Richmond region during the start of 2021. Last week, a Charlottesville-based indoor farming company and an Austin, Texas-based firm tech startup both announced their plans to move their headquarters to the city, in Scott’s Addition and Manchester, respectively.
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