Washington Still Doesn’t Know What Good Marijuana Is (Or How To Test For It)

Washington Still Doesn’t Know What Good Marijuana Is (Or How To Test For It)

Retail sales of legal marijuana have been underway in Washington state for more than four years—and state regulators in charge of quality control still aren’t sure what good cannabis is, or how to test for it.

All product sold in stores is supposed to be tested for mold, pesticides and other contaminants by labs evaluated and accredited by a private company under contract.

That will change sometime soon. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, which regulates marijuana sales, has until January 15 to come up with recommendations for how the state should begin accrediting testing labs.

But in order to do that, regulators—or state lawmakers, or both—have to decide what, exactly, makes good weed. And nobody—not in Washington state, nor elsewhere in the U.S. where marijuana is legal—can seem to agree what that is, according to a draft government report posted online Thursday.

“Current quality standards… are insufficient to support a robust, science-based cannabis laboratory accreditation program,” the Washington Department of Ecology document says.

A “Cannabis Science Workgroup” comprised of experts in chemistry, biology, medicine and other fields to determine minimum standards for cannabis quality should be formed, wrote Sara Sekerak, a senior chemist and project manager at the department.

To reach this determination, researchers with the agency reviewed quality-control standards in four states. They found that “[w]idely accepted quality standards for testing cannabis and cannabis products do not yet exist.”

“Accreditation does not designate product standards or quality standards,” the report adds. “However, these are necessary to support meaningful accreditation.”

Eventually, testing labs in Washington will be accredited by a state agency. Until that happens, quality may remain erratic.

Because of weak or nonexistent state rules, labs “are allowed to design their own levels” of quality control and quality assurance. There are no readily available samples of agreed-upon “quality” cannabis to set a basic standard by, as there is for drinking water and other consumer goods.

Untrained workers collecting samples for testing may taint the samples. And current accreditation standards applied by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are not sufficient, the report found.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Washington Still Doesn’t Know What Good Marijuana Is (Or How To Test For It)

Washington State Prepares To Rewrite Marijuana Testing And Packaging Rules

Washington State Prepares To Rewrite Marijuana Testing And Packaging Rules

Marijuana regulators in Washington State will entertain sweeping changes to how marijuana is tested, processed, packaged and sold in one of the U.S.’s oldest recreational marijuana markets, officials announced late Wednesday.

Recreational cannabis has been sold in regulated retail outlets in Washington since 2014. Consumers there pay one of the country’s highest tax burdens, generating nearly $400 million in revenue through the first three years of legalization, as the Stranger reported in late 2017.

But medical marijuana patients have long complained about limited product availability. And a recent string of testing labs suspended for erratic results that allowed unsafe product to reach retail shelves has shaken confidence in product safety.

“Requests from the industry have…been received regarding testing requirements, and changes in testing requirements in other states have prompted further review of WSLCB rules for potential adjustment,” the new notice from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said. “Additionally, the WSLCB has heard from the medical marijuana patient community that they would like to see additional product types or levels of potency that are not currently supported by the regulatory structure.”

“For these reasons, changes to products, serving amounts in packaging, and other related requirements may be considered,” the regulators announced Wednesday.

Wednesday evening’s notice is the initial notification of potential rulemaking, and “no rule language is offered at this stage of the process.”

Members of the public can submit comments or proposals until October 24. No proposed rules changes are expected to be filed until “on or after October 31,” the notice said.

“Following the comment period, the agency will send out and publish the proposed rules, establish a comment period on the proposed rules, and hold a public hearing before the rules are adopted,” according to the agency.

Until then, the agency “will consider the following topics for potential rulemaking changes,” according to Wednesday’s notice:

  • Lot and batch sizes;
  • Fields of testing and pass/fail level adjustments;
  • Potency testing requirements;
  • Pesticide testing requirements for all cannabis products;
  • Heavy metals testing requirements;
  • Sample deduction requirements;
  • General testing rule adjustments;
  • Product, THC serving limits, and packaging requirements; and
  • “Other related rule changes that may be necessary or advisable,” according to the notice.

Whatever “further adjustments” the agency will propose are meant to “increase efficiencies in testing” and “increase the availability of compliant [cannabis] products,” the notice said.

Anyone interested in submitting comments or proposed rules can contact Joanna Eide, Policy and Rules Coordinator, at [email protected].

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Washington State Prepares To Rewrite Marijuana Testing And Packaging Rules

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Marijuana Related Calls to Poison Control On the Rise

Marijuana Related Calls to Poison Control On the Rise

Marijuana is already legal in Colorado and Washington, and laws continue to be reformed throughout the country. This is good news for the police officers who have previously wasted time cracking down on non-violent pot smokers, as well as for the users over the age of 21 who no longer have to hide their use of a mostly-harmless plant. However, it seems that poison control centers in Washington and Colorado are not receiving such good news as there has been a significant increase in cannabis-related calls.

The number of pot-related calls to poison control in Washington have more than doubled since 2013, jumping from 158 calls to 246 in 2014. Colorado has experienced a similar rise in the number of pot-related calls to poison control, as the number of calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center for marijuana exposure jumped to 151 in 2014, the first year that pot was sold. In 2013 there were only 88 calls and only 61 in 2012, the year pot became legal.

There is no real way to tell whether the rise in pot-related calls to poison control has more to do with people being comfortable enough to report it, or with an increase in its use, as both of these factors could be increasing due to its becoming legal.

What is arguably the biggest problem with the increase marijuana use is the increase in children accidentally eating it. Because cannabis is relatively harmless and contains nothing toxic, people are more relaxed about it. This may lead to people being more likely to accidentally leave it on the counter where a child could get reach it.

Both Washington and Colorado have experienced a rise in the number of calls to poison control reporting the accidental consumption of marijuana by children. In 2014, there were 48 such calls in Washington regarding children 12 and under, and 45 in Colorado regarding children 8 and under. In both cases, these numbers are nearly doubled from previous years.

In Washington, half of the calls resulted in hospital visits. Though most of those patients were discharged from the emergency room, ten of them were taken to intensive care. Half of those cases were people under the age of 20.

If parents did not see their child eat the pot, and were not aware of the cause of their strange symptoms, the child could end up subjected to blood tests and spinal taps as a result of the doctors checking for meningitis and other conditions. Some cases at Seattle Children’s Hospital even resulted in the children being intubated because they were having trouble breathing.

In most cases in Washington, the marijuana that caused the turmoil came from unregulated medical marijuana dispensaries, and not from licensed recreational shops. The unregulated dispensaries may be selling marijuana gummy bears or other items that would appeal to children, while licensed recreational shops are banned from selling such items.

Washington has started limiting what a medical marijuana dispensary can sell, and both Washington and Colorado are enforcing the use of child-resistant packaging in licensed stores to combat these issues.


photo credit: Wikimedia

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