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ABQ cannabis lab goes beyond bongs and joints

A lab technician works on a piece of cannabis extraction equipment at GH Labs’ Albuquerque facility, located at 601 Paragon SE. The 17,000-square-foot facility will manufacture cannabis concentrates, oil and other finished products. (Stephen Hamway/Journal)

A new arrival to Albuquerque’s cannabis scene is focused on applications for the plant beyond smokable flower.

GH Labs’ 17,000-square-foot cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility near Albuquerque’s southern edge is still being built out as technicians assemble extraction equipment and prepare indoor growing facilities. Once the facility is operational, GH Labs’ owner and CEO Vance Dugger said he expects the facility to manufacture 600 to 700 pounds of cannabis products per week, including edibles, concentrates and other products that have to be extracted using butane, carbon dioxide and other methods.

Dugger said some of these products will be sold under the company’s house brand, but the company also hopes to partner with smaller, local producers to help develop products that they might not otherwise have access to.

An empty grow room at GH Labs’ cultivation and extraction facility in Albuquerque. The 17,000-square-foot facility will manufacture cannabis concentrates, oil and other finished products. (Stephen Hamway/Journal)

“I want to help those who are local residents who do not have (millions of) dollars pouring into the state,” Dugger said. “I want to give them an equal playing field.”

New Mexico medical producers harvested 25,795 plants during the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data from the New Mexico Department of Health. However, some industry experts have argued that the state’s production of edibles, oils and concentrates, which are increasingly popular among medical patients and recreational cannabis users in other states, hasn’t kept up.

“New Mexico is really behind the rest of the industry by a couple years,” Dugger said.

Dugger, who became a medical cannabis patient after sustaining a neck injury in 2012 and moved into the industry after struggling to find products in New Mexico that weren’t extracted using butane, said a few factors have contributed to this lack of production. Dugger said a lot of manufacturers in the state lack sufficient funding, and are hampered by long waits for plant material that can be converted into a finished product. He said GH Labs plans to cut into that wait time for manufacturers.

In addition to other products, GH Labs has partnered with Prescott Logic Technologies, a national cannabis company that is developing a patch that allows users to absorb cannabinoids through the skin. Steven Bennett, founder and chief scientific officer for Prescott, said absorbing cannabinoids through the skin prevents the body from filtering out some of the drug’s effects.

“Ten or 20 milligrams that doesn’t have to go through the liver is going to go a lot further,” Bennett said.

Additionally, using a patch allows users to regulate their dosing more effectively than they might be able to through other intake methods. He said the company’s patch is primarily aimed at medical patients dealing with chronic pain, and has minimal psychoactive effects.

“I’m eager to work with Vance and get this thing on the market,” Bennett said.


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