Colorado Marijuana Testing License

Interested in starting a Cannabis business in Colorado?

Does Colorado Require Testing for Marijuana and Marijuana Products?

A state license is required by persons or entities interested in operating a cannabis testing laboratory in Colorado as outlined in the Code of Colorado Rules. The relevant local authorities in the jurisdiction where they intend to run their cannabis testing facilities must also duly authorize such persons or entities. Amendment 64 allows the licensing of marijuana testing facilities, among other business activities in the Colorado cannabis industry.

In Colorado, a marijuana testing facility can be a private or public laboratory licensed and authorized by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). Generally, they conduct testing and research on medical marijuana and recreational cannabis within the state to analyze and certify their potency and safety.

The cannabis testing laboratories in Colorado test for the following:

  • Potency - Laboratories are required to test for marijuana potency by checking for the presence and levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol acid (CBD-A), Cannabinol (CBDN), Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THC-A), and Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Contaminants - In Colorado, recreational and medical marijuana must be tested for microbes, including yeast, salmonella, mold, and E. coli. Products such as water-based medical marijuana and flowers must equally be tested for heavy metals to check for lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Laboratories must test cannabis-infused products that have solvent-based concentrates for residual solvents. Such residual solvents include Toluene, Butanes, Total Xylenes, Benzene, Hexane, and Heptanes
  • Pesticides in Concentrates - Batches of regulated marijuana concentrate produced on or after July 1, 2021, must be tested for pesticides as they are made
  • Water Activity Testing - Except for wet whole marijuana plants, Colorado marijuana rules now require batches of regulated trim, flower, kief, and shake harvested on or after July 1, 2021, to pass through water activity testing

Does Colorado License Independent Marijuana Testing Facilities?

Yes. The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) issues licenses to independent medical and recreational marijuana testing facilities. However, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), an agency that coordinates the inspection of marijuana testing facilities, must also certify marijuana testing facilities. As of early 2024, Colorado has seven licensed independent medical marijuana testing facilities. Similarly, there are seven licensed retail marijuana testing facilities in the state. Most of these facilities are certified to test for solvents, mycotoxin, pesticides, potency, microbial, and heavy metal.

What Accreditations Do Marijuana Testing Facilities Need in Colorado?

According to the Code of Colorado Rules, all licensed marijuana testing facilities, besides meeting standards of performance established by Colorado Marijuana Rules, must be accredited under the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The scope of a marijuana testing facility's accreditation in the state must stipulate a specific testing category to enable them to secure certification in that testing category from the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

The International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025 is a global standard that specifies the essential requirements for laboratories' competence, fairness, and consistent operation. Any laboratory accredited under ISO/IEC 17025 expresses readiness to comply with all the standards the accrediting body represents.

Typically, the MED can issue a provisional certificate to a marijuana testing license applicant who is yet to be accredited under the ISO/IEC 17025 sequel to the initial approval of their license once they satisfy other licensing criteria. However, provisional certification is only valid for 12 months; hence, a licensee must be accredited under ISO/IEC 17025 within this period.

The latest version of this standard, ISO/IEC 17025:17, has some requirements for a marijuana testing laboratory seeking accreditation. These are general, structural, resources, process, and management system requirements. Under the general requirements, marijuana testing laboratories must maintain a high level of confidentiality and impartiality. It is unethical for any laboratory to share its customers' data in public without their express permission unless prohibited by law. Also, ISO/IEC 17025:17 requires a laboratory to be impartial and not compromise standards to any financial or commercial pressure. Under structural requirements, a marijuana testing laboratory must define its management structure and identify those responsible for its operations.

For resources requirements, a marijuana testing laboratory must have the requisite resources needed to be accredited under ISO/IEC 17025:17. These include competent personnel, facilities, and laboratory equipment. A marijuana testing laboratory must institute a procedure for reviewing customers' requests and apply the appropriate laboratory procedure to satisfy the process requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:17. Under the management system requirements, a marijuana testing laboratory is required to establish, maintain, implement, and document a management system capable of assuring quality and consistent test results to obtain the ISO/IEC 17025:17 accreditation.

How to Get a Marijuana Testing Laboratory License in Colorado

The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), a division of the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR), issues licenses to Colorado's medical and retail marijuana testing facilities. The MED requires businesses interested in obtaining marijuana testing licenses to complete the Regulated Business License Application Form and submit it to any of its offices with required supporting documents. Applicants must indicate the license class for which they are applying by ticking either the retail or medical box on this form. After that, they should select the type of marijuana testing license they want (medical marijuana testing facility or retail marijuana testing facility). Marijuana testing license applicants in the state can also use the online application portal. This portal requires new users to sign up to enable them to complete and submit their applications.

Besides completing the application form and submitting requisite documents, the MED requires prospective marijuana testing licensees to determine their suitability. Consequently, it provides two separate forms to assist applicants in finding their suitability for licenses. Applicants must complete the relevant finding of suitability form and submit it with the Regulated Business Application Form to the MED. The forms as provided by the MED are:

  • The Marijuana Finding of Suitability Application Form - Owner Entity: A form for any entity that holds a minimum of 10% interest of the marijuana business owner's interest, such as:
    • An executive or qualified institutional investor with 30% or more of the marijuana Business
    • Any affiliate or entity with authority to exercise control of the marijuana business
  • The Marijuana Finding of Suitability Application Form - Natural person: This form is required for any natural person who owns at least 10% interest of the marijuana business owner's interest. They include managers, executive officers, or other individuals who can exercise control of the business

Any owner entity tendering the owner entity suitability application must equally complete a natural person suitability application form and must be submitted with the application form to the MED.

The MED also requires marijuana testing applicants to submit proof of complete fingerprinting with their application forms and supporting documents. To have their fingerprints taken, license applicants can use the service of any third-party fingerprint vendors approved by the MED. Typically, these vendors issue receipts as proof of taking applicants' fingerprints for license applications.

Being a regulated business in Colorado, marijuana testing license applicants must get a state tax license that fits their proposed marijuana testing facility. Also, marijuana license applicants in Colorado, including those seeking marijuana testing licenses, must meet particular state and federal employment requirements stated by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

After paying the required application and license fees, an applicant can submit their completed application forms, proof of complete fingerprinting, and supporting documentation via mail to any of the following MED offices:

Marijuana Enforcement Division

1697 Cole Blvd., Suite 200

Lakewood, CO 80401

Northern Regional Office

Marijuana Enforcement Division

275 South Main Street, Suite 101

Longmont, CO 80501

Western Slope Regional Office

Marijuana Enforcement Division

632 Market Street, Suite G3

Grand Junction, CO 81505

Southern Regional Office

Marijuana Enforcement Division

2447 North Union Boulevard

Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Lakewood Office - MED Headquarters

1697 Cole Boulevard, # 200

Lakewood, CO 80401

Only the Lakewood office of the MED accepts walk-in application submissions for applicants who prefer to hand-deliver their applications. The office opens between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays._ _Prospective applicants can submit their license applications in its drop box at this location.

The MED hosts and updates a list of local authorities in Colorado that allow marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction on their website. It encourages prospective marijuana licensees to confirm that the local authorities in the jurisdictions they intend to site their facilities permit marijuana businesses.

The MED approves or denies a submitted application between 45 and 90 days after receiving it. To get certified, a new marijuana testing licensee must contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) via email to request the certification audit documents. The testing facility can then submit a Request For Inspection Form once it has attended to all compliance concerns and completed an internal self-audit. The form must be signed and dated by the director of the marijuana testing laboratory, after which the CDPHE will schedule an on-site inspection to determine whether to certify the facility or not.

How Much Does a Marijuana Testing Laboratory License Cost in Colorado?

Depending on the level and whether a testing facility is for medical or retail marijuana, the costs of Colorado marijuana testing licenses are listed below:

Retail Marijuana Testing Facility

  • Application fee - $1,000
  • License Fee:
    • Level 1 - $2,200
    • Level 2 - $4,550
    • Level 3 - $6,900

Medical Marijuana Testing Facility

  • Application Fee/ License Fee:
    • Level 1 - $2,440/ $610
    • Level 2 - $3,680/ $920
    • Level 3 - $4,880/ $1,220

For license renewals, both medical marijuana and retail marijuana testing facilities pay $1,840 and $460 for application and license fees, respectively. The MED accepts checks (payable to the Department of Revenue) as means of payment. Applicants can also pay the DOR via money orders or credit card authorization.

Are there Local Regulations for Cannabis Testing Facilities in Colorado?

Unlike marijuana products manufacturers, there are no known local regulations for cannabis testing facilities in Colorado. However, local licensing authorities may require a regulated marijuana business such as a testing facility to obtain a local license before operating in a jurisdiction.

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Colorado Marijuana Testing License