A formerly Bend-based marijuana testing business has surrendered its lab licenses for its Bend and Eugene locations due to violations that focused on workers taking home products left over from testing samples, under an agreement approved Thursday by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Each licensee at the two Evio Labs facilities also agreed to accept a letter of reprimand for three violations in Bend and six in Eugene, the agency said.
Evio Inc. Chief Operating Officer Lori Glauser said the company voluntarily surrendered the two labs' licenses in part as a business decision, consolidating its Oregon operations at larger facilities in the Portland area and in Medford.
The OLCC noted that samples sent to labs for testing are divided in half, with one half tested and the other half retained, in case there's a need to do a retest. After about 40 days, the "retention sample" is supposed to be disposed of, but the OLCC found that Evio Labs was letting workers take them home for personal use.
Glauser said some workers had taken small quantities of "waste material" home during a period in 2017. She said, "OLCC came out with more guidance regarding cannabis waste, at which point we immediately took corrective action to ensure full compliance. "
She also said the Bend lab's licenses was surrendered due in part to a "very weaker than expected market in Eastern and Central Oregon. In Bend, we were unable to sustain a competitive lab, when we had two other labs operating in the state. With consolidation to two labs, we can serve clients more economically, and also ensure we have better controls in place."
"At most, we had four or five employees" in Bend, Glauser said, and there were only two by the time it closed in the past couple of months. Some workers, including those who took material home, were dismissed, while others were given an opportunity to relocate to the other locations, if they wished.
Glauser called Bend a "very small market," despite the numerous dispensaries. "There really aren't a lot of growers and processors. Most are in the Portland area." Asked if Deschutes County's stricter rules for marijuana processing were a factor in that situation, Glauser said, "Absolutely."
"There aren't a lot of licensed, large growers" in the Bend area, she said. "We were counting on more growers to come in the area." She also noted that "a large part of Eastern Oregon opted out of cannabis" processing, as local governments or voters chose that option.
Glauser said the company still serves the Bend market and has "made considerable changes to improve processes and practices" to keep in line with OLCC's more fleshed-out tracking and disposal requirements.
With the Bend closure, Glauser said Evio Labs has relocated its corporate headquarters back to Henderson, Nevada, where it started in 2014. She said she's currently in Southern California, focusing on building labs there, starting with Palm Desert.
The firm has been expanding operations and has a licensed operating lab in Berkley, California, also serving Humboldt County. It owns 50 percent of a lab in Edmonton, Alberta, and is licensing a lab in Framingham, Massachusetts. It also has other testing labs near Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville, Florida, and in Denver.
Evio also acquired the building and equipment from a former cannabis testing lab in Tigard and moved its Portland lab there. "It is a larger, state-of-the-art facility that is capable of a substantially higher volume of tests," Glauser said.