Hillsborough County’s ACS Laboratory keeps Florida’s weed clean

Illustration of a marijuana leaf shown in the negative space of many leaves.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

As Florida leads the nation’s medical marijuana industry, weed workers in Tampa Bay are making sure Floridians get the best stuff.

Why it matters: Florida has some of the strictest marijuana testing rules in the U.S., meaning we’ve got some of the cleanest product.

  • The state’s mandatory compliance testing of medical marijuana keeps dozens of dangerous contaminants and solvents like pesticides and heavy metals out of our cannabis.

State of play: ACS Laboratory in Hillsborough County runs the largest cannabis and hemp testing facility in the eastern U.S., Miami New Times reports.

  • The lab is responsible for examining samples from roughly half of all medical marijuana produced inside Florida. It also analyzes hemp from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and 16 countries.

What’s ahead: The lab is expanding in anticipation of the state legalizing adult recreational marijuana use, which ACS Laboratory president Roger Brown told New Times would require five to 10 times more employees to scale their operations.

Yes, but: That won’t happen for at least another year. A state Senate bill that would legalize recreational marijuana is dead.

What we’re watching: Legalization could still happen through a voter-backed amendment on the 2024 ballot.

  • An initiative, funded mostly by dispensary and cannabis product seller Trulieve, has about 636,000 valid signatures of the 891,589 needed to make the 2024 ballot.

What they’re saying: Brown said they’ll be looking to increase hiring in 2024, and reevaluating their spaces.

  • Former state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who ran to be Florida’s “weed governor ” last year, wasn’t surprised the legislature didn’t advance the bill. But she’s hopeful that the initiative will get enough signatures to put an amendment on the ballot.
  • “Hopefully the Florida Supreme Court will have no issues with the language,” she said.

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