Utah’s Department of Agriculture will begin to start testing its medical marijuana crops soon.

The department will be looking out for salmonella, E. coli, arsenic, mercury, and a host of other things. State law calls for private labs to eventually take over the testing.

“The intent is just to provide a short-term solution until we get a lab up and running. Because if we didn’t do this, the program couldn’t move forward. The product has to be tested before it’s consumed as a medicine. And so if the lab didn’t step in, we’d have this dark period where the supply chain would be incomplete,” explained Andrew Riby, Utah’s cannabis program manager with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

One lab has already turned in an application and is expected to get started sometime between March and May.

The testing for hemp last year was included in all of the growers’ fees, but the department realized it “was more expensive than we thought,” and the fee structure will be adjusted, according to Weston Judd, state chemist and lab director.

“Going forward, basically the growers will need to pay for their lab tests, in addition to their fees,” Judd said.

Utah is expecting to roll out its medical marijuana program in March.

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