On Friday, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced that it had suspended Centralia’s Praxis Laboratory’s certification to conduct quality assurance testing on cannabis products.
The lab, located on Tower Avenue in downtown Centralia, was “found to have falsified testing data to provide high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency results for more than 1,200 samples of cannabis,” according to a news release from the LCB.
During the investigation, the owner allegedly attempted to destroy evidence of the falsified data, according to the LCB
“Labeling cannabis with falsely high THC potency levels is a form of consumer deception and is prohibited under Washington law. THC is the natural chemical compound responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effect. Because of this, cannabis users seeking more pronounced psychoactive results may choose to buy cannabis with higher levels of THC,” according to the LCB news release.
The summary suspension is effective for 180 days beginning Dec. 10 and lasting through June 8, 2021.
The LCB plans to seek permanent revocation of the lab’s “marijuana laboratory” certification due to fraud, and the subsequent investigation obstruction. The lab will no longer be allowed to test cannabis for licensees in Washington.
In 2017, The Institute of Food Safety & Defense opened up shop at 327 N. Tower Ave. — built in 1913 to house the Farmers Merchant Bank. The laboratory began by testing food products contaminants, purity and quality and later received I-502 Lab Certification from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board allowing it to test marijuana.
Dustin Newman created the cannabis testing arm of the business off under the name Praxis Laboratory.
Most of the Praxis clients are marijuana producers or processors within Washington state and account for about 30 percent of the testing done inside the building, The Chronicle reported in 2018.
“If you think of, like, clinical labs that do blood testing or medical exams, they’re often next to grocery stores,” Newman said in 2018. “There’s a testing facility in Olympia next to a Lego store. We have a pretty good relationship with all of our neighbors. If people do knock on the door, they’re more likely to ask if we can test the vegetables they grow in their garden (than have concerns).”
In 2018, there was some concern about the occasional odor of marijuana from outside the building.
At the time, Newman said he expected the business to grow. He is still listed as the laboratory director on Praxis’ website.
“Right now, we’re probably among the most advanced labs in the state as far as cannabis,” Newman said in 2018. “But, it’s not going to be our main area of growth.”
The LCB is mandated to ensure that licensees in Washington State follow state laws and regulations. When licensees fail to comply with state law, the LCB, under state authority can take action including the issuance of suspensions to ensure public health and safety.