Jake Bhattacharya, 28, operates a cannabis testing lab in a small room of his home in Upland. He preaches the importance of measuring how fragrant terpenes impact the analgesic power of cannabis. (Stan Lim, Orange County Register)

Working with weed: Meet a lab technician

SANTA ANA, Calif. — Before he opened a testing lab in Upland, Jake Bhattacharya didn’t notice the lack of labels on marijuana products he consumed.

Today, the 28-year-old preaches the importance of measuring how “fragrant terpenes” (pungent, oily compounds secreted by the plant) impact the “analgesic power” (pain relieving benefits) of cannabis.

“People want this information,” said Bhattacharya, a long-haired Bernie Sanders supporter who occasionally does standup comedy. “That’s what makes it a legitimate, normalized drug – when it’s tested.”

A technology buff, Bhattacharya was making a good living working on computers and copy machines. But he wasn’t happy or making the money to buy the house on the hill he’s sought since his parents emigrated from Bangladesh. So six months ago, he launched Flower Potency Labs.

Calibrating his $8,000 gas chromatography testing machine isn’t much different than calibrating copy machines, he said. To bridge the gap, he took a course offered by the machine manufacturer on preparing samples.

“There are a lot of procedures that go into testing,” he said. “But once you know them like the back of your hand, you can knock out some very accurate tests in a short amount of time.”

What does the state say about testing pot?

Under state laws passed in October, all cannabis sold in California will have to first be tested at a licensed lab starting Jan. 1, 2018.

State officials are still working out details of how that testing will work. But the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act generally requires marijuana to be tested for potency, pesticides, mold and other contaminants.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7963 or bstaggs@ocregister.com

This story was first published on OCRegister.com