Washington DC Marijuana Testing License

Interested in starting a Cannabis business in Washington DC?

Does Washington DC Require Testing for Marijuana and Marijuana Products?

Yes. Washington DC requires testing for marijuana and marijuana products sold by licensed dispensaries in the district pursuant to Section 7–1671.05 of the Code of the District of Columbia. D.C. testing laboratories are required to test harvested medical cannabis samples and to present licensed cultivation centers with the levels of THC and cannabidiol in the tested materials. Testing results must also show whether the tested materials are organic or non-organic, the presence and concentration of fertilizers and other nutrients, as well as any other information required by the ABRA (Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration).

Marijuana testing is important in safeguarding the health of consumers because the marijuana plant exhibits a sponge-like behavior during cultivation by absorbing nutrients and components from the soil, including fungicides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other plant growth regulators. The residual compounds from these chemicals pose serious health risks to marijuana users. Also, testing allows marijuana dispensaries to provide precise information about their products' strength and potency, allowing for quantifiable dosages and predictable user effects.

According to Section 6409.3 of the District of Columbia Municipal Code Regulations, marijuana testing laboratories must test and analyze a representative sample from each available batch of medical marijuana or marijuana products for:

  • Moisture content
  • Water activity
  • Cannabinoid potency, including, at a minimum, the levels of:
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Foreign matter contamination
  • Microbial contamination
  • Mycotoxin contamination
  • Heavy metal contamination, including, at a minimum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury
  • Pesticide and fertilizer residue
  • Residual solvents
  • Cannabinoid and terpene profile
  • Product assessment (for edible products)
  • Homogeneity (for edible products)
  • Any other items requested by or approved by the Department of Health

Does Washington DC License Independent Marijuana Testing Facilities?

Yes. Washington DC licenses independent testing facilities to conduct testing on marijuana and marijuana products. Unlike other types of marijuana business licenses in the District, application for the testing facility license is not subject to open application period. This means that interested laboratories can submit their applications for a license at any time.

What Accreditations Do Marijuana Testing Facilities Need in Washington DC?

Pursuant to Section 6404.1 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, a marijuana testing laboratory must be accredited in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025 of the International Organization for Standardization by an impartial, nonprofit organization operating in compliance with ISO/IEC 17011. The nonprofit organization is required to be a signatory of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).

Per Section 6404.2 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations, a testing laboratory must obtain the ISO/IEC 17025 certification within six months after obtaining a marijuana testing facility license or registering with the Department of Health. Any marijuana testing laboratory that fails to obtain this accreditation within the stipulated period may have its license suspended or revoked.

ISO/IEC 17025 is an internationally recognized standard for testing and calibration laboratories. It certifies technical competence in laboratory testing and calibration services and is applicable to organizations and laboratories that provide testing and calibration. ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratories perform tests in line with international standards (ISO 17025), and the results are admissible by many governmental and regulatory agencies.

To obtain an ISO/IEC 17025 certification, a third party will evaluate the laboratory's quality management system and technical capability. Even after obtaining accreditation, the accrediting authority will perform periodic audits to ensure that required standards are kept in order to maintain accreditation. ISO 17025 certifications are only given by certified accrediting bodies.

In 2017, the ISO expanded the accreditation requirements for ISO/IEC 17025 to cover five standard criteria. Before a testing laboratory may be granted ISO/IEC 17025 certification, an accrediting authority will evaluate the laboratory against the following criteria:

  • The laboratory staff's credentials, training, and experience
  • Quality assurance procedures
  • Sampling techniques
  • Testing procedures
  • Test validation methods
  • Traceability of measurements to national standards
  • Procedures for recording and reporting test results
  • Laboratory testing facilities

How to Get a Marijuana Testing Laboratory License in Washington DC

To be eligible to apply for a marijuana testing laboratory license in DC, the applicant:

  • Must be of good character and considered generally fit for the responsibilities related to obtaining the license
  • Must be aged 21 or older if applying as an individual
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony offense for a crime related to violence, tax evasion, gun offense, fraud, or credit card fraud within the three years immediately preceding the application date
  • Must be independent of all persons or entities involved in the D.C. medical marijuana industry, including medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation centers, and healthcare providers who have provided recommendations within the last five years. The applicant must also be independent of any persons or entities that may benefit from the cultivation, manufacture, sale, dispensing, purchase, or use of medical marijuana
  • Must not have been convicted of a misdemeanor for a drug-related offense prior to the application
  • Must have paid the annual fee for a business permit in the District of Columbia
  • Must be current on all tax filings and have "clean hands," that is, the applicant must not owe more than $100 in outstanding debt to the government of the District of Columbia

Before submitting a formal application for a marijuana testing facility license in D.C., the applicant must first submit a Letter of Intent to the Director of the Department of Health or a designee under Section 5401 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. The Letter of Intent must include:

  • The applicant's name or the name of the corporation, organization, or company, and if the applicant is an organization, the title and full name of the primary contact
  • The applicant's or principal contact person's mailing address, which must not be a post office box number. The contact information provided must also include a daytime telephone number and an email address if the primary contact and the applicant are not the same
  • The name of the license for which an application will be made
  • A statement of no more than 100 words describing the applicant's intent to submit an application for a testing laboratory license
  • The applicant's dated signature

After submitting a Letter of Intent, the applicant must wait to receive an acceptance letter from the Department of Health. Note that only applicants who submit their Letters of Intent promptly may receive acceptance letters. Without an acceptance letter, a prospective applicant for a marijuana testing laboratory license may not proceed to submit an application. Completed Letters of Intent may be submitted to:

D.C. Medical Marijuana Program

899 North Capitol St NE, 2nd Floor

Washington, DC 20002

Upon receiving an acceptance letter, the applicant may complete the application form on the forms and application page of the ABRA website. Applicants having issues accessing the application may contact mcfacilities@dc.gov. In the electronic mail, include "MCP Facility Application Question" in the subject line. In-person and phone inquiries are not accepted. Responses to questions asked via electronic mail will be published on the ABRA's website and not responded to on an individual basis.

On the application, the following information will be required:

  • Proposed staffing plan
  • Proposed security plan. The security plan must include a site plan showing the streets, parking lots, and entities within the physical border of the laboratory; a floor plan detailing entrances, exits, roof hatches, windows, skylights, camera field of view, alarm inputs, and restricted and public areas; security training outline; incident log use plan; closing procedures for business days; theft or diversion of marijuana prevention plans; and marijuana samples waste disposal procedures
  • A written statement supporting the suitability of the proposed facility
  • A laboratory testing plan demonstrating the applicant's experience, knowledge, training, and applicable certification in laboratory testing techniques. The plan must also demonstrate the applicant's ability to provide and ensure quality assurance, proficiency testing, quality control, analytical processes, chain of custody, sample retention, results reporting, recordkeeping, and corrective action protocols
  • Proposed plan and timeline for obtaining ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation
  • A notarized written statement attesting that the applicant has read and has knowledge of all relevant laws, including D.C. and federal laws and regulations concerning medical marijuana
  • An environmental plan
  • Proof that the facility has been granted a medical cannabis certified business enterprise (CBE) status
  • Proof of compliance with all relevant zoning requirements
  • Documentation detailing the source of funds to be used in establishing the marijuana testing facility
  • Proof that the facility will not be co-located with any other type of business

Note that the application fee must be included in the submission made to ABRA. The application fee of $3,500 may be paid with a check, money order, or cashier's check made payable to the "D.C. Treasurer." For an in-person submission, the applicant may pay the application fee by presenting a credit card to the ABRA contact representative during submission. A completed application may be submitted in person or by mail to:

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

2000 14th Street N.W.

Suite 400 South

Washington, DC 20009

Upon submitting an application, the applicant's security plan will be forwarded to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) or its designee for an assessment. The designee or the MPD itself will assess the plan within 21 days of receipt from the Department of Health. A testing laboratory facility license will not be issued until the MPD or its designee finishes its assessment of the security plan and submits the review in writing to the DOH. Upon submitting the evaluation, the entire application package will be forwarded to the license application scoring panel.

If the applicant fails to address all the required criteria, an application will be considered non-responsive and not accepted for review by the scoring panel. The scoring panel set up by ABRA scores each application based on the criteria outlined in the initial selection criteria and application instructions for the medical cannabis testing laboratory license.

How Much Does a Marijuana Testing Laboratory License Cost in Washington DC?

The fee for a marijuana testing laboratory license in Washington DC is $3,500. Social Equity Applicants qualify for a reduced fee of $875. The fee for filing a renewal application for the license is $7,500 ($1,875 for Social Equity Applicants in the first 3 years of operation). The testing laboratory license must be renewed annually.

Are there Local Regulations for Cannabis Testing Facilities in Washington DC?

Per Section 5401.9 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations, a testing laboratory licensee may not hold a cannabis cultivation center, retailer, internet retailer, manufacturer, or courier license.

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Washington DC Marijuana Testing License