Medical marijuana dispensaries are literally cropping up in as many as 23 states. They are serving a wide assortment of vapors, concentrates, elixirs as well as other forms. But, is this marijuana really safe?
There is no direction on safety standards from the FDA, EPA or the USDA due to the fact that possessing or selling marijuana is still a federal crime. Along with the dispensaries, medical marijuana labs are also in a growth spurt. Today’s testing methodologies and standards are anything but standard – it’s a new industry. A variety of tests are being performed for different reasons. For example, one key test is testing Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the chemical in marijuana that produces the psychological effect, potency is important in determining the amount a person should consume. Too much THC can cause paranoia, confusion and agitation. Another test is pesticide testing; obviously essential as pesticides can be damaging to anyone, especially someone with a weakened immune system. Other tests look for biological contamination; some plants and edibles have been found to be contaminated with mold or E. coli. Additionally, there have been cases reported of high levels of solvents found in butane hash oil which is made by blasting the marijuana with butane and taking all the THC and nothing else. All of these tests are critical as any of these conditions can create serious health issues.
Because the federal government has put marijuana into the category of a Schedule I drug which includes LSD and heroin, researchers haven’t been able to analyze it against an agreed set of standards. Each state decides on the type of testing required and who should do it. The industry is in a very early stage so standards are still in formation. This will remain the case until either the government or industry itself steps up to define standards and practices. Labs themselves may have to be governed somehow, as it’s been reported that some less scrupulous testing labs are providing fictitious reports to the dispensary certifying the sample is safe and free of contaminants. This obviously could introduce a clear and present danger to those consuming the product.
The state of Colorado was the first to introduce a bill calling for laboratory standards for testing labs. The bill is asking for a reference library that contains guidelines on marijuana laboratory testing for contaminants, potency, homogeneity and solvents. The state of Illinois has granted a University of Illinois at Chicago lab to administer testing for safety and potency. Illinois has a requirement to exceed the voluntary testing for safety than in other states.
Not all states are testing medical marijuana. Due to the large number of dispensaries in California, the state marijuana law has less than 10 sentences, none of which even address the safety of the product. But, California will require testing in the future. The state of Arizona officials choose to forego testing because of the delay in getting the marijuana to patients. The graphic below, courtesy of BuzzFeed News, shows the current testing status of each state:
With new testing standards, comes the need for laboratories to be properly equipped to be sure all cannabis products used for medical purposes, and even recreational, as is some states, are carefully analyzed and deemed safe for consumption. Water testing is regulated. So is milk. Why not pot? Fully equipped labs would include proper furnishings and fume hoods. Labscape offers lab design as well as high quality, customizable furnishings such as fume hoods, casework and countertops. We have a team of installation specialists that have all been OSHA trained.
At Labscape we work with you from the beginning to the end to ensure the health and safety of your lab and that all your needs are fully met.
Click here to view our blog post on a Labscape Walk In Fume Hood that was selected for lab testing during a recent project in the cannabis industry.
Click here to read the State of Colorado house bill.
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