LOMPOC, Calif. - Santa Barbara County is becoming known as a major hub of cannabis cultivation. And with that comes opportunity.
The first and only cannabis testing lab is set to open in Lompoc next month.
The facility, Merso Lab, is looking to offer Santa Barbara County cultivators a local option.
City leaders said the lab is an example of the potential Lompoc has to capitalize on a high tech industry of the future. Kaleb Asfaha, CEO of Merso Lab, said he plans to do his best to hire locally and also hopes to serve local growers first.
“Our mission is to be a scientific resource for the greater agricultural community here. Specifically, the new booming industry which is cannabis,” said Asfaha.
Though several cannabis retailers have popped up this year in Lompoc, Merso Lab will be the first testing facility on the entire Central Coast.
“These jobs are the jobs of the future but they are here now finally,” said Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.
Merso Lab currently employs six people but is seeking to hire another six, and has plans to expand.
“Lompoc has desired to recruit these kinds of jobs for a while. So this is a huge opportunity to hire locals, hire for those high paying jobs and hopefully see an expansion of that,” said Osborne.
Osborne noted the city will continue to invite the science tech arm of the industry.
“The different cannabinoids that we are measuring come off this compartment,” explained Merso Lab Director of Lab Services Kelsey Gorter as she gave us a tour of their state-of-the-art facility.
The testing lab analyzes cannabis products to make sure they are safe and that the claimed potency is accurate. A service that is in high demand in Santa Barbara County.
Due to the current lack of local testing facilities, some cultivators and manufacturers are being forced to wait long turn around times for results from labs in northern and southern California.
“The demand for our service is much greater than the capacity that we can serve,” said Asfaha.
Merso Lab will open in early January. They are looking to hire chemists, lab personnel, customer service representatives as well as sales and marketing teams.