What Is NTEP and What Does It Mean For Dispensaries?

Sample of Cannabis

So your state legalized cannabis and you’re going to open a dispensary. You know you’ll need scales to weigh your products, but you keep hearing the term NTEP and you’re not sure what that is. Let’s take a look at NTEP approval and what it means!

NTEP stands for National Type Evaluation Program, an approval system created by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) and the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM). Any scale or balance used for sales in the U.S. must be NTEP-approved/legal-for-trade, meaning that it’s legally approved for buying or selling goods by weight. Given the high price point per ounce and that dispensaries sell cannabis in small quantities, a scale needs a high degree of readability to ensure the correct amount of product is sold.

Balancing Cost Against Cannabis

How to obtain NTEP certification for weighing scales and balances

To obtain NTEP certification (per the guidelines listed in NIST’s Handbook 44), scale manufacturers submit prototype weighing devices for evaluation to determine that they operate within specific tolerances. NTEP standards entail everything about a device from capacity and readability to the effects on the scale from temperature and humidity – and even the location of the NTEP sticker on the device!

In addition to NTEP approval, precision scales and balances used for selling cannabis to consumers also need to be rated Class II by NIST. Class II scales display results from 1mg to 50mg (0.05g) and have 10,000 – 100,000 divisions, or better.

Other scale classes include Class I (ideal for precision lab work; 100,000+ divisions), Class III (industrial or commercial use, such as animal weighing, food weighing and postal scales; 1,000 – 10,000 divisions), Class III L (vehicle weighing) and Class IIII (used for highway weight enforcement; 100 – 1,000 divisions).

Put simply, NTEP certification provides consumers with the confidence that that they’re getting what they paid for by requiring a high degree of readability on the scale. The Highland series of precision balances from Adam Equipment offers NTEP-approved models in its lineup that would be ideal for use in Dispensaries.

Highland Approved Precision Balance

Local laws and cannabis legislation

The NCWM established a Cannabis Task Group in 2017 to create uniform guidance for the states that have legalized cannabis. As of July 2019, 33 states and Washington, DC allow medical marijuana, while 11 of those states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, which will be joined by Illinois in January 2020) as well as Washington, DC have legalized recreational use and five other states have decriminalized (but not legalized) marijuana. At present, cannabis industry laws can vary significantly by state, so always check local laws to verify your state’s current requirements.

View our recent blog post on the importance of scales and balances in the cannabis industry to find out more!
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