When you’re spending upwards of $200 an ounce for legal weed, you want to make sure that you’re getting every single bud and flake that you paid for.
Nicholas Brechun is on your side. It’s his job to direct the testing of scales used by medical-marijuana dispensaries in Colorado to ensure that what’s being sold measures up.
Next week, that job description grows to include retail marijuana stores that can begin legally selling Jan. 1.
It’s not just pot. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is charged by law with checking the accuracy of scales used for everything from pomegranates to propane to polled Hereford cattle — any item or commodity for which owners must have a state license to sell.
But the testing of marijuana scales has taken on a new prominence with medical cannabis and the passage last year of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational use for people age 21 and over.
Each of Colorado’s 516 dispensaries has its scales inspected at least once a year.
On Monday, it was the turn of the Green Solution dispensary on Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood.
Brechun pulls out his black leather test kit that has small steel weights, each weighing precisely the amount stamped on it — 5 grams, 10 grams, 50 grams and so on.
He dons disposable gloves because when working with precision digital scales, even the oil from his fingertips can throw measurements out of balance.
Brechun starts with a 5-gram weight, placing it on the platform of the dispensary’s Swiss-made Mettler Toledo scale. The scale’s digital readout shows 5.00 grams — exactly as it should.
He moves through the progression of 10-, 20- and 50-gram weights. Only when he tests with the 100-gram weight — equivalent to about 3.5 ounces — is there the tiniest variation. The scale’s display shows 99.98 grams. That’s well within the tolerances allowed.
And anyway, the discrepancy is in the customer’s favor, even though it would take a microscope to see a tiny fleck of cannabis weighing 0.02 grams.
In a matter of minutes, Brechun completes his inspection of the dispensary’s four scales.
“These scales are good,” he says. “But that’s to be expected.”
Only a handful of scales at Colorado dispensaries have ever tested outside of tolerance ranges. When they do, inspectors order them to be recalibrated, and then they are tested again.
“We want our patients to know exactly what they’re getting,” said Green Solution general manager Jeremy Mullin. “If they want to see it weighed, and weighed again, that’s what we will do.”