Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have not passed the potency and purity tests since the state began requiring checks on July 1, a rate of industry failures that has more to do with unrealistic standards. and technical failures that protect consumer safety.
The tests have been especially difficult with biscuits, candies and tinctures with cannabis infusions: about a third have been blocked on store shelves.
In much smaller numbers, state-licensed test companies are finding unacceptable levels of pesticides, solvents and bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, according to data provided by the state's Cannabis Control Office.
Marijuana samples are organized in Cannalysis, a cannabis testing laboratory, in Santa Ana CA
Nearly 20 percent of the marijuana and marijuana products tested in California for potency and purity have failed, according to state data provided to The Associated Press.
In the first two months, almost 11,000 samples were tested and almost 2,000 failed. In some cases, the product must be destroyed.
But many involve labeling problems that can be corrected. For example, a marijuana outbreak that has been tested to show a different potency than the one on the label can be re-labeled and sold to the correct specifications.
For the state, the strict testing program is largely doing what it was designed: identify marijuana sprouts, concentrates, snacks and other products that are somehow contaminated and not fit to eat or smoke.
"The mandatory state tests are something new and it's going to take some time for everything to work smoothly, but overall we are satisfied with how things are progressing," said Cannabis Control Office spokesman Alex Traverso.
But as regulators consider the recast rules that govern the country's largest legal economy, they face pressures to renew test requirements that are alternately described as going too far, not far enough, or too costly a burden.
Edible marijuana samples are reserved for evaluation in Cannalysis, a cannabis testing laboratory
The California Growers Association, an industry group, is among those concerned about the fact that the state is forcing producers and manufacturers to achieve a goal that is too small by measuring levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that causes marijuana. .
The rules require that the THC concentration be within 10 percent of what is advertised on the label of a product. The executives of the company say that some products are being rejected after landing out of the margin in small quantities.
The Cannabis Manufacturers Association of California, another group in the industry, is pushing for changes that include allowing companies to challenge the results of laboratory tests.
"Even if the lab admits they made a mistake, there's no way to change those results," said Bryce Berryessa, a board member of the association who is executive director of the TreeHouse dispensary in Santa Cruz County and president of La Vida Verde. , which produces infused cookies.
& # 39; Laboratories are not perfect. They make mistakes, "he said.
About 6% of the faults come from microbial impurities and 5% due to the presence of concentrated waxes and oils that harbor residual solvents such as ethanol
Results of the legal marijuana test in California
California began conducting strict testing of products for legal marijuana on July 1 and through August 29, there were 10,695 samples tested and 1,904 not, according to the State Cannabis Control Office. Here are the findings:
REASONS OF THE FAILURE (Some samples failed for multiple reasons)
– Inaccurate claims on the package label: 1,279 failures
Microbial impurities (mold, E. coli, salmonella): 114
-Residual Solvents, processing chemicals: 99
-Moisture (in cannabis buds): 36
-Homogeneity (uniform distribution of THC): 25
– Foreign material (insect fragments, hair): 6
LOTS FAILED BY CATEGORY
Cannabis outbreaks: 5,355 batches tested, 567 failures (10.6 percent)
Inhalable oils, waxes: 3,361 batches tested, 686 failures (20.4 percent)
Edibles, tinctures, lotions: 1,979 lots tested, 651 failures (32.9 percent)
The California marijuana industry is looking for changes in testing.
– Allow manufactured products that do not pass the tests to be relabelled, to reflect the results. For example, if an infused chocolate bar fails to have too much THC, change the label to reflect the higher potency instead of destroying the batch, which is now required. Currently, that can be done for marijuana sprouts but not for edibles.
– Allow variations in the THC content up to 20 percent below or above what is on the label of an edible, instead of the current 10 percent.
– Growers who produce different varieties of marijuana want the ability to analyze them together, rather than separately, which is now required even if the plants were harvested on the same farm at the same time. It is estimated that the change could reduce test costs by up to 40 percent, industry officials say.
At a state hearing last month, Santa Ana-based testing company Cannalysis urged regulators to expand their standards to include a test used in the food and pharmaceutical industries that company officials say can detect a large number of species potentially harmful from mold and yeast covered in the state guidelines.
The company has seen examples where mold was in cannabis, but the sample passed the state tests.
Swetha Kaul, the scientific director of the company that is part of the board of the Cannabis Industry Association of California, said in an interview that the state needs to create a larger network to catch things & # 39;
By limiting its required revision to a few species of mold, the state "is essentially creating an escape where all other species can move forward," he said.
California began extensive legal sales on January 1 and gave the companies six months to sell marijuana, oil and grocery stores produced without strict testing requirements.
There are 57 laboratories in the state authorized to test marijuana
The standards require that all cannabis products eliminate a series of tests in laboratories before reaching consumers, prevent THC from being evenly distributed in chocolate bars to ensure that the sprouts have not been contaminated with mold blankets. diffuse
From July 1 to August 29, laboratories tested 10,695 batches of products and 1,904 were rejected, a failure rate of about 18 percent.
Affirmations on the label, such as the content of TCH, accounted for 65 percent of failures, or 1,279 tests.
This is how the rule works: if a bottled juice drink said on the label that it was 25 percent apple juice, the evaluators would have to find that the concentration in the juice was within 10 percent of that mark, more or less. It's the same with cannabis.
Next in line: Around 400 batches were marked for unacceptable levels of pesticides. Impurities such as bacteria and mold caused 114 rejections.
California began conducting strict testing of products for legal marijuana on July 1 and until August 29 there were 10,695 samples tested and 1,904 failed
Ninety percent of the outbreaks that were tested were sent to stores, suggesting a mostly clean market for legal growers. The rejection rate was double that of the concentrates: 20 percent of the oils and the "waxes" analyzed were not cut.
In a statement, the California Department of Public Health said it had not received any verified reports of illnesses resulting from the consumption of a cannabis product attributed to mold or bacteria, although three complaints were filed anonymously and could not be verified.
The debate about testing is not just about laboratory procedures or permissible levels of pesticides. Everything comes with a cost, which companies say is forcing their budgets.
"The tests are currently expensive, slow and inconsistent," the producer association told the state in a recent letter.
Experts believe that half of the cultivated pot is contaminated with potentially dangerous chemicals or bacteria
Testing for a small outdoor marijuana farm can usually cost $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 in California. There have been similar complaints in Colorado, where growers are grappling with new and required pesticide tests.
While California now has the largest legal market in the nation, there is still a huge black market. The head of the Los Angeles Police Department, Michel Moore, highlighted the risk of buying in the illegal market last week, warning consumers that the price of money saved "may be your life".
He said it is known that unlicensed stores tarnish his boat with Fentanyl and other narcotics. In an illegal store "you do not know what you are really buying," said Moore.
Starting in 2019, all marijuana products sold in California will also be tested for heavy metals and mold mycotoxins.