These ex-cops are now testing Michigan’s legal cannabis

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Nearly a billion dollars worth of cannabis was sold in Michigan in 2020 and even before it hit the shelves, the majority of the bud was examined by former police officers, reports Lansing City Pulse.

Virdis Laboratories was founded by former Michigan State Police members in 2016. In total, about 40 employees are spread across two Virdis labs, operating in Lansing and Bay City.

The executive team includes Greg Michaud, former director of forensic science, Dr. Michele Glinn, a former toxicology unit supervisor and program coordinator, and Todd Welch, a former forensic scientist.

Welch was the impetus for starting the company and told Lansing City Pulse that his team has tested almost 70 per cent of all recreational and medical cannabis sold in Michigan over the last five years.

In addition to terpene and cannabinoid profiles, Virdis tests for heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, pesticides, microbes and other contaminants.

If the samples pass, the remaining harvest can be packaged and sold. The cannabis samples are destroyed following the tests, regardless of whether or not the bud receives the go-ahead.

Welch told Lansing City Pulse that some of his former colleagues raised their eyebrows when he first told them about his retirement plans, but the pivot has proven successful. With cannabis sales flourishing across Michigan, plans are in the works to expand the Lansing facility.

“I will say, the response nowadays is totally different,” Welch said. “They think it’s great. They’re interested. They want to know more. That stigma has really gone away over time,” he said.

It’s not the only police connection to the state’s legal cannabis industry. The former Flint Police Training Academy could soon become the base of a cannabis-growing operation.

“Flint seemed like a good city to establish this type of business in,” Franko Sallaku, managing partner for Evergrow, said last month.

Evergrow has reportedly offered US$500,000 ($615,000) to buy the vacated building and has plans to convert it into a grow as soon as possible.

If the sale is approved, the facility could supply cannabis to legal retailers in Flint and throughout the rest of the state.

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