The team hoping to open a cannabis testing lab on the third floor of an office building at 43 Freeport St. won a unanimous vote of approval – followed by a round of applause – at the Columbia- Savin Hill Civic Association’s general membership meeting on Monday night.
Dimitrios Pelekoudas and Kris Nybakken, the co-founders, CEO, and COO, respectively, of Assured Testing Laboratories have made the rounds to local civic associations in the area over the last month, asserting that safety is the top priority for the company and its backers.
“We’re asking for a letter of support because we need to get this process going and get cannabis out of the black market’s hands,”said Pelekoudas, often noting that statewide deaths due to vaping of THC [the main psychoactive compound in marijuana] might have been avoided through testing practices like those that Assured Testing Lab would provide.
The testing is used to ensure that marijuana sold by various retailers, which would be completely independent from the lab, is free of elements known to be harmful and to establish its potency so that customers will know exactly what the dosage they’re consuming is and how it is likely to affect them.
The team addressed concerns over a recent cannabis retail store proposal pitched for the first floor of the same building. Civic members wondered if that proposal, made by Fields Corner business owners Brian and Jaison Chavez, might create a conflict.
“The short answer is that we don’t know exactly if their presence would make us ineligible because of our status as a testing lab,” said Nybakken. Added Pelekoudas: “Last week there was a meeting, I believe in Uphams Corner, that the Chavez brothers held. With our application moving through, last week, they did not mention Freeport St. at all--they actually mentioned a different location up in Uphams Corner.”
Pelekoudas said that he didn’t believe the cannabis retail proponents would be moving forward with their application at 43 Freeport St. “Based on that meeting we believe that they’ve decided to not go with Freeport St. as a potential location,” he said,“We know from our landlord that we are the ones who have locked ourselves in both financially and in writing to be at Freeport St. To clarify: I don’t believe that they’re going for that space anymore, but we are a separate entity and we are much further along in the process of getting this underway.”
CSHCA President Desmond Rohan made a motion to approve the vote, saying, “ So I think the vote will be-- provided that there will not be a retail outlet-- that we are only approving the use, so if there’s anything else in the rejection letter we ask you to come back.”
Brian Chavez on Tuesday told the Reporter in an email that his team has not changed the location of their proposal. “We are not moving our proposal from 43 Freeport. We have already filed our city application and our initial ISD filing,” he wrote, “We met with the community several times, and as part of the application process we will be meeting again in the next few months for our official city sanctioned meeting.”
Chavez said he’s excited about the community feedback his team has received. He wrote: “As a local business owner I’m excited about the amount of community support I’ve received regarding this proposal, and as residents of this community we strive to be transparent and honest with our neighbors regarding our proposal.”
The Assured Testing Lab team must request a conditional-use permit from the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and secure a ZBA date, before they can obtain a Host Community Agreement. Securing letters of support from community associations like CSHCA benefits the proponents, putting them in better standing to be approved by the city.
To date, there are no operational testing labs in the city of Boston and only a few statewide, although all products sold in the state are required by law to be tested by a Massachusetts-based, independent lab.