COLCHESTER, Vt. – A Colchester company known for their work as a leading food allergen tester is using their technology to branch into the marijuana market.
Bia Diagnostics works globally with food manufacturers to meet quality control standards. CEO Thomas Grace said he started the company because food labels often claimed products were allergen free without a strict verification process. He sees a similar scenario playing out in the marijuana market.
“It’s like the wild west again,” Grace said. “There is very little regulation regarding the labeling of these products, plus there could be other things in there which could be contaminants.”
Bia Diagnostics made an investment in state-of-the-art equipment that can test marijuana or hemp for THC and CBD levels, pesticides, heavy metals absorbed from soil and microbials. This service is available elsewhere, but Grace believes there’s benefits to staying local for Vermont growers.
“Instead of sending it out of state, taking maybe two to three weeks to get results, they can do it in-state and have it done in two to three days,” Grace said.
Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts said the state has seen an “explosion” of people wanting to grow hemp, a cannabis plant typically used for fiber. There’s currently 900 registered growers in Vermont.
“We have set up the stage in Vermont that we want to have a hemp industry that is based on quality, much like our artisan cheese, craft beer and wine,” Tebbetts said. “It all has to be focused on quality, and testing like this lab here will be critical for that.”
Despite the major role Bia Diagnostics plays in their field, they only have a staff of 10 employees. They’re planning to hire more for the new lab, and whatever happens next in Vermont’s marijuana and hemp industry, Co-Owner Robin Grace said she’s ready.
“We’re prepared for whatever comes our way,” Grace said. “This is going to be not just a burgeoning field, but also an important field. We want to ensure the safety of products for consumers.”