One of Alaska’s three marijuana testing labs has been shut down by Wells Fargo bank, leaving the state’s growers with only two options for state-mandated testing.
In a social media post Thursday morning, testing lab Steep Hill of Anchorage declared, “We are sorry to announce that Steep Hill Alaska will be suspending cannabis testing operations on March 31, 2018. We have to relocate because Wells Fargo called in the loan on our building. They will foreclose if we do not move out — just because we are a cannabis business!”
Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Wells Fargo in Alaska, said by email, “It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal.”
Alaska regulations require marijuana sold in the state to be tested for potency and contaminants. With Steep Hill’s closure, Anchorage-based CannTest and Wasilla-based New Frontier Research remain available for that required testing.
Brandon Emmett is a member of Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board from Fairbanks and chairs the subcommittee devoted to testing issues. By phone, he said the wider effects of Steep Hill’s closure will be limited because CannTest alone has the capacity to handle both business’ work.
“The businesses that use Steep Hill are going to be inconvenienced … obviously Steep Hill is going to be extremely inconvenienced, but as far as the industry as a whole is concerned, I don’t think it will be a major issue,” Emmett said.
A CannTest representative confirmed that its lab has enough capacity to handle state demand. New Frontier Research said by email that it has not held its grand opening — its license was finalized March 14 — but it has received numerous calls this week and is accepting samples for testing.