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Pot: Cannabis Testing Laboratories

Washington has suspended the license for one of it’s 15 marijuana testing laboratories, which is basically a death sentence for that business. Apparently, no one failed any of the tests this lab did, and no one got a failing report, which defies common sense.

Since the lab was located in Poulsbo, not far from where I am in Chimacum, it served all the growers on the Olympic Peninsula, and no doubt including a bunch of the nearby Mason County growers (which is a lot). Since the pot stores have product on their shelves dating from last summer, this suggests that it’s possible that all of the product in peninsula stores can be suspected of being tainted.

When Colorado came online with retail sales they had no testing requirements or laboratories, but now have 14. Washington allowed for testing right away.

But consider, who are the customers of the labs? The state of Washington basically issued licenses and told them to behave themselves and walked away, there being no enforcement protocols in place. The buyers of the products enjoyed peace of mind knowing the content of the products and assurances there were no contaminants, but their money went to the stores, who cannot test (because they are not allowed to touch the actual products). It was the growers that took their samples to the labs and paid for the testing. So, who is the customer here? The state and the consumers aren’t because you’d never see them, but you do see the growers showing up with duffel bags of cash to pay for test results.

Oregon is on a fast train towards a lab problem. They have a lot of labs because it’s a good business, but no regulation at all right now. Stores in Washington have test results on file, and I’d encourage consumers to take a look at one of the reports to see what they look like. As with all agricultural products you’ll see measurable amounts of nasty stuff, but not dangerous levels. But I became suspicious in Oregon when I noticed rather high levels of cannanaboid numbers being reported, and then results that reported zero levels of stuff that you’d expect to find in trace amounts.

Alaska and Hawaii (and the San Juan Islands in Washington) have a sticky problem in that samples have to be transported on federal waters or through federal airspace, which is “trafficking” according to federal law.

So as this great experiment proceeds, regulators are discovering the scope of their duties expanding at an exponential rate. If cannabis could be “descheduled” at the federal level, the EPA, FDA, and USDA would have jurisdiction and standards like they do any other agriculture, food, or medical product, so the full burden doesn’t fall on every state.

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