Cannabis News

First tests are in, and 1 in 5 marijuana samples in California isn’t making grade

Dr. Raquel Keledjian, lab director, injects gas into a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer to identify and quantify unknown compounds at The Werc Shop, Monrovia. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register/SCNG)

One in five batches of marijuana has failed laboratory testing since new state safety requirements kicked in July 1, according to data from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Failures have been triggered by inaccurate labeling or contamination from pesticides, bacteria or processing chemicals.

Those testing requirements and results have left some retailers with severely limited inventory over the past few weeks, as cultivators and product manufacturers scramble to get compliant products to market.

There was a big gap at the beginning of the month with the supply of marijuana buds in particular, according to Nick Rinella, chief operating officer of Verdant Distribution, a Long Beach-based independent cannabis distributor.

The new testing requirements have also created backlogs at busy labs.

The state has licensed just 31 testing labs, most located in Northern California, and many of them aren’t yet taking customers. As a result, Rinella said cannabis safety tests are taking between one and two weeks.

And this week the first cannabis product was recalled from store shelves because it doesn’t meet new standards regarding pesticide levels.

While that’s concerning, in the short term, industry experts believe it’s also a sign that California’s cannabis industry is maturing and starting to look like other regulated markets, such as alcohol and food.

Wrong labels

California launched legal recreational marijuana sales and imposed new rules for the cannabis industry on New Years Day. But state regulators gave businesses a six-month grace period to comply with some rules, including a requirement that they could only sell products that had been tested for safety by a licensed lab.

That grace period ended July 1, and the state says since then labs have tested 5,268 batches of marijuana, about 20 percent of which failed to meet state standards.

Those numbers would likely be higher if companies weren’t paying for independent lab tests before putting their products through the official supply chain, according to Verdant Distribution founder Brian Blatz.

“Smart brands are pretesting first, then testing again in the labs,” he said.

More than two thirds (68 percent) of the cannabis batches that failed in state tests did so because of inaccurate claims on the labels. Specifically, labels often over-state the amount of THC — the compound in cannabis that makes people feel high — that’s actually in the cannabis, according to Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesman Alex Traverso.

While that’s not necessarily a safety hazard, it can lead consumers to overpay for products that aren’t as strong as advertised.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Brooke Staggs on The OCR

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Published: July 26, 2018

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