Alaska down to 2 cannabis testers after lease, loan problems

One of Alaska’s three cannabis testing labs, Steep Hill Alaska, has closed because of complications with a loan connected to the space the business leased, its CEO said.

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Steep Hill CEO Brian Coyle said his landlord had received a letter from Wells Fargo threatening to foreclose on the building where the lab leased space, and the bank would not renew the landlord’s loan because Steep Hill is a cannabis business. The landlord asked Steep Hill to move out, which it did over the weekend.

Several other tenants in the building that run businesses unrelated to cannabis were apparently not affected.

Wells Fargo’s Alaska spokesperson David Kennedy declined an interview request and issued a written statement.

“It is currently Wells Fargo’s policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal,” the statement said.

Kennedy said the fact that the building has other tenants and that Steep Hill itself was not banking with, nor borrowing from, Wells Fargo does not change the bank’s position.

Coyle, the lab CEO, said he hopes to reopen elsewhere, but he is unsure when or where that might be.

Meantime, the closure leaves only two other labs in Alaska providing state-mandated testing for cannabis growers. The two remaining are CannTest in Anchorage and New Frontier Research near Wasilla.

Alaska regulations require growers to have cannabis tested for potency, among other things, before it can be sold at retail shops.

State records show there are three other testing facilities currently going through the application and review process.

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Casey Grove is the host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media with an emphasis on crime and courts. Reach him at