Confidence Analytics, the self-proclaimed first cannabis lab to test a sample under Washington state’s legal recreational marijuana law, is raising cash to expand to California.
The Redmond, Wash. lab was founded in 2014, in anticipation of the state’s regulation of recreational marijuana. Confidence Analytics is one of 15 accredited cannabis testing labs in Washington state, said Nick Mosely, co-founder of Confidence Analytics. But it is one of only three labs certified to perform tests beyond minimum thresholds set by the state, such as looking for pesticides or heavy metals.
Mosely told GeekWire there are approximately 1,200 licensed cannabis cultivators and manufacturers, and in any given month Confidence Analytics serves roughly 300 to 400 of them. The company makes money off fees for testing samples.
Prior to co-founding the lab, Mosely worked as a researcher on clinical trials focused on drug discovery. A friend pitched him on the idea of getting involved in cannabis testing, and Mosely was intrigued.
“I saw it as an opportunity to get involved in the ground floor of something that I think is going to blossom and even shake up the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “There are many drugs to be discovered from these plants.”
Mosely wouldn’t say how much the lab is raising to expand to California, where recreational cannabis use became legal in 2018. A recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicates that company has raised $1.4 million out of a $2.5 million round.
Today, Confidence Analytics has 26 employees, and Mosely expects to at least double headcount as the company expands to California.
The cannabis business is growing up — the legal marijuana industry grew to $10.4 billion in the U.S. last year — and the tech companies serving pot enterprises are growing right along with it. As an early adopter of legal recreational cannabis, Washington state has become a hub of innovation in the nascent industry.
Mosely said the state was an early leader in quality assurance as well, with well-formulated and articulated rules. In recent years other states have legalized marijuana and instituted more advanced regulations, Mosely said.
For example, Oregon was the first state to require pesticide testing. California requires labs to visit facilities to collect samples on site. Washington lets cannabis makers send samples to the labs, creating the opportunity for bias, Mosely said.
“Washington has fallen behind in the rigor of its quality assurance rules,” Mosely said.
However, Mosely thinks Washington is set to regain its status as a leader in cannabis regulations. It is the only state that has passed legislation for a Cannabis Science Task Force to overhaul rules and regulations. House Bill 2052 allocates $1.6 million over four years to support the task force’s work. The state is also poised to become the first to have a commission for regulating cannabis.
Mosely sits on the task force’s steering committee. Confidence Analytics’ connection to state legislative efforts around cannabis helps it stand out from the competition, Mosely said.
“Aside from our market share, and our reputation, and our goodwill, we have accreditations most of our competitors don’t. And additionally we are very plugged into the regulatory and lobbying efforts,” he said.