The state’s newest medical cannabis testing laboratory is now open in south St. Louis County – but only after a 2-year detour while its parent company focused almost exclusively on COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

Cloud TEN is the sixth cannabis testing lab to open in the state, providing medical cannabis cultivators and manufacturers with independent, third-party testing to track potency and product ingredients while ensuring that products offered at retail are free of mold, solvent, pesticides and other contaminants.

Cloud TEN is one of eight such facilities in Missouri so far approved to operate, out of 10 current license holders, said chief executive officer Jackson Benefield, though its plans to roll out services soon after retail sales of medical cannabis began nearly two years ago were put on the back burner.

“When 2020 hit, our entire business pretty much became a COVID testing laboratory,” he said, referring to parent company TEN Healthcare. That company, formed eight years ago, now does business in 26 states and has 100-plus local employees.

The Cloud TEN facilities are in a 14,000-square-foot facility that once housed a J.C. Penney warehouse. Reporters interested in touring the facility or interviewing Benfield can reach him at jbenefield@cloudtenlab.com or 314-649-9508.

Nearly 190,000 Missouri patients and caregivers have been approved as medical marijuana cardholders by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Medical cannabis sales in Missouri include an additional 4% sales tax, with the proceeds dedicated toward veterans’ health and care services.

The department has licensed or certified 390 facilities across the state to cultivate, manufacture, test and dispense medical marijuana safely to Missouri patients. The medical marijuana program, which was approved by 66% of Missouri voters on the November 2018 ballot, has already generated nearly $336 million sales.

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