Cannabis lab struggles to find home in Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Looking for a job? You might want to take a look at the cannabis industry. More than 400,000 thousand pot related jobs are projected to be created across the country by 2021. But there are still many hurdles cannabis companies still face.

Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley is part of the largest cannabis testing company in the world. The labs make sure cannabis products on dispensary shelves are safe for consumers. Demand for their services is so high they are looking to hire a lot of new employees.

"We're scaling from a lab with 30 to 35 employees to up to 200 employees in a very rapid manner," said Tony Daniel with Steep Hill Labs.

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According to ArcView Market Research, the California cannabis industry will add some 99,000 jobs over the next four years.

Steep Hill is hiring so many people it's running out of room and shopping for more space.

The company has identified a potential location in nearby Alameda.

But the company can't move there because Alameda, like many cities across the state, is still working out local rules for cannabis dispensaries.

"This is a problem that we are looking at across the cannabis industry," said Daniel. "There are not enough municipalities that have permitted cannabis businesses so that folks that are looking to expand or grow, or put a footprint down, are having a hard time."

The Alameda City Council will discuss proposed cannabis rules on Tuesday night. If passed, they will allow for two labs within city limits.

There are some cities that are rushing to embrace the cannabis industry.

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Fresno County's Mendota, "The Cantaloupe Center of the World," is rolling out the welcome mat. The Mendota City Council recently approved rules to allow a massive commercial pot business in the town's industrial area.

Tim McGraw is founder and CEO of Canna-Hub.

"Frankly there's not a lot of companies coming to small towns like this and offering up the type of revenues that Canna-Hub is giving the City of Mendota," said McGraw.

Canna-Hub is developing two massive cannabis related properties in California.

"That includes tissue culture, nursery, indoor grows, greenhouse grows, manufacturing, distribution, transport, third party testing labs and any ancillary businesses," he said.

Canna-Hub plans to hire 100 people, with the potential of pumping $800,000 into city coffers.

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"Council is optimistic about it. I'm cautiously optimistic about it. It could have potentially revenue enhancing benefits for us but we're going to have to wait and see until it's fully operational," said City Manager Vince DiMaggio.

Canna-Hub plans to break ground in the coming weeks.

Back in Berkeley, the operators of Steep Hill Labs hope they will be moving to Alameda soon.

Daniel said, "There's a lot of new discoveries to be made, there is tons of R and D work that is incredibly interesting, so we haven't, so far, had trouble attracting talent."

They are just having trouble finding a place for them to all work.

Click here for our most recent stories about cannabis in California.

Written and produced By Ken Miguel
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