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|February 20, 2019|
Many California marijuana products failing safety tests
RANCHO CORDOVA--Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety.
The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: about one-third have been blocked from store shelves.
In much smaller numbers, testing companies licensed by the state are finding unacceptable levels of pesticides, solvents and bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, according to data provided to The Associated Press by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.
In the first two months, nearly 11,000 samples were tested and almost 2,000 failed. In some cases, the product must be destroyed. But many involve labeling issues that can be corrected. For example, a marijuana bud that's tested to show a different potency than what's on the label can be relabeled and sold with the right specification.
To the state, the strict testing program is largely doing what it was designed to do: identify marijuana buds, concentrates, munchies and other products that are in some way tainted and unsuitable for eating or smoking.
Rules require the THC concentration come within 10 percent of what is advertised on a product label. Company executives say some products are being rejected after landing outside the margin by tiny amounts.
California began broad legal sales on Jan. 1 and gave companies six months to sell off stockpiles of marijuana, oils and edibles produced without strict testing requirements.
The rules require all cannabis products to clear a range of tests at labs before reaching consumers, from ensuring THC is distributed evenly in chocolate bars to making sure buds have not been contaminated by fuzzy blankets of mold.
From July 1 through Aug. 29, labs tested 10,695 product batches and 1,904 were rejected, a failure rate of about 18 percent.
Claims on the label, such as TCH content, accounted for 65 percent of the failures, or 1,279 tests.
This is how the rule works: If a bottled juice drink said on the label it was 25 percent apple juice, testers would have to find that the concentration in the juice was within 10 percent of that mark, plus or minus. It's the same with cannabis.
Next in line: About 400 batches were flagged for unacceptable levels of pesticides. Impurities such as bacteria and mold caused 114 rejections.
Ninety percent of the buds that were tested were sent on to shops, suggesting a mostly clean market for legal growers. The rejection rate was double that for concentrates: 20 percent of oils and "waxes" tested didn't make the cut.
In a statement, the California Department of Public Health said it had not received any verified reports of illness resulting from consumption of a cannabis product attributed to mold or bacteria, although three complaints were submitted anonymously and were unverifiable.
Testing for a small, outdoor marijuana farm can typically run $5,000 to $10,000 in California. There have been similar complaints in pot-friendly Colorado, where cultivators are dealing with new, required pesticide tests.
While California now has the nation's largest legal market, a huge black market still exists. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore spotlighted the risk of buying on the illegal market last week, warning consumers that the price from money saved "can be their life."
He said unlicensed shops are known to lace their pot with Fentanyl and other narcotics. In an illegal shop "there's no telling what they're actually buying," Moore said. (Source: KNBC)
Story Date: September 12, 2018