See inside South Dakota’s only cannabis testing lab

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -When we first introduced you to Jared Nieuwenhuis in 2020, he had just launched a soil testing company for farmers.

Since then, his lab has changed. First, Nieuwenhuis changed to testing cannabis for a South Dakota tribe.

“An independent testing laboratory for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal government’s cannabis program,” said Nieuwenhuis.

And the next step of growth came quickly after. Cannabis Chemlab is the only lab to test all cannabis in the state.

Moving into a new, larger facility will help meet the demand. The finishing touches of the new lab tables and cabinets are yet to be completed, but they needed the space right away.

“We’re located in Flandreau so that we can service both the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal government and the customers that are licensed under the state,” said Nieuwenhuis.

The work is taken seriously. Blind testing ensures fair treatment.

“Cannabis producers in the state want to have a good name, and the way they get that good name is through their lab results,” said Nieuwenhuis.

The lab analyzes much more than THC levels. Each batch either passes or fails. Any problems go to remediation with the South Dakota Department of Health. A failure could come from a host of different results.

“One way is microbial contamination. Total yeast and mold is a common failure,” said Nieuwenhuis. Residual solvents could also create a red flag.

Cannabis ChemLab’s findings also inform consumers.

“Terpenes work alongside the THC profile to give different effects for the patients,” said Nieuwenhuis.

Detecting a harmful contaminant could save lives, especially for patients with compromised immune systems.

“A lot of these people that are consuming cannabis are medical patients,” said Nieuwenhuis.

Lessons have been learned from states like Colorado and California.

“There’s this phenomenon within cannabis production and testing called lab shopping,” said Nieuwenhuis.

When labs use different methods or standards, it can skew the results. In other states, dispensaries often chose growers with the highest THC levels, even if the labwork is questionable. Cannabis ChemLab chooses to follow the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists’ standards.

“That AOAC method and applying it here in South Dakota set the standard for hopefully other labs where to start they would use that same exact method,” said Nieuwenhuis.

He hopes to shorten the turnaround time from five days to three. Attention to detail takes precedence over speed.

“If you have a medical card and you’re purchasing it from a regulated market, you can rest assured that it’s gone through rigorous testing to make sure that what you’re putting in your body is safe,” said Nieuwenhuis.

Neuinhuis hopes that the state will mandate the method of testing in the future to ensure results can’t be skewed among other labs that could open in the state.

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