Take a look inside South Dakota’s only cannabis testing lab

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – When we first introduced you to Jared Nieuwenhuis in 2020, he had just started a soil testing company for farmers.

Since then, his laboratory has changed. First, Nieuwenhuis became a cannabis experiment for a South Dakota tribe.

“An independent testing laboratory for the cannabis program of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Government,” Nieuwenhuis said.

And the next step of growth came soon after. Cannabis Chemlab is the only lab that tests all cannabis in the state.

Moving to new, larger facilities will help meet demand. The finishing work on the new lab tables and cabinets was not yet complete, but they needed space immediately.

“We are located in Flandreau so that we can serve both the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Government and customers licensed by the state,” Nieuwenhuis said.

They treat work seriously. Blind testing ensures fair treatment.

“Cannabis producers in the state want a good name, and the way to get that good name is through their lab results,” Nieuwenhuis said.

The lab analyzes much more than THC levels. Every batch is pass or fail. Any issues will be resolved with the South Dakota Department of Health. Failure can come from a number of different outcomes.

“One way is microbial contamination. General yeast and mold is a common failure,” Nieuwenhuis said. Residual solvents can also create a red flag.

Cannabis ChemLab’s findings also inform consumers.

“Terpenes work alongside the THC profile to produce different effects on patients,” Nieuwenhuis said.

Identifying a harmful contaminant can be life-saving, especially for patients with compromised immune systems.

“Many of these people who use cannabis are medical patients,” Nieuwenhuis said.

Lessons taken from the states of Colorado and California.

“In the production and testing of cannabis, there is this phenomenon called laboratory procurement,” said Nieuwenhuis.

When laboratories use different methods or standards, it can skew the results. In other states, dispensaries often choose cultivars with high THC levels, even if the lab work is questionable. Cannabis ChemLab chooses to adhere to the standards of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists.

“This AOAC method and its implementation in South Dakota has set the standard for other labs on where to start,” Nieuwenhuis said.

He hopes to shorten the processing time from five days to three days. Attention to detail trumps speed.

“If you have a medical card and you buy it from a regulated market, you can be sure that it’s gone through rigorous testing to make sure that what you’re putting in your body is safe,” Nieuwenhuis said.

Neuinhuis hopes that the state will determine the testing method in the future so that the results are not distorted among other laboratories that open in the state.

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