There is a lot of debate around who grows the best cannabis. If you get marijuana growers together, they can debate for days about various strains, growing mediums and techniques. If you get cannabis consumers from different locations, there can easily be an ongoing debate about the cannabis in their favorite state and even city or region. And don’t even get some folks started on whether they prefer indoor vs. outdoor or sativa versus indica.
It is very common for members of the cannabis community to come down to Oregon and California as #1 and #2, with the spots flip-flopping depending on personal preference. While there are plenty of subjective criteria, science has come forward to declare that a vast majority of the California cannabis currently on the market cannot meet Oregon’s strict testing standards.
Steep Hill found that 83 percent of California’s cannabis products would not meet the testing standards required by labs certified by the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), which gives Oregon the distinction of incorporating the strictest standards of all states with legal marijuana programs.
California’s cannabis products fail largely due to the use of the pesticide myclobutanil, which can turn into toxic hydrogen cyanide during combustion.
“Growers will significantly need to adapt their cultivation operations to address the high prevalence of pesticides, both to meet the state’s new regulations, and to address the growing concerns among consumers about the quality of cannabis they are ingesting,” reads a New Frontier Data press release.
The fact that Oregon cannabis in the legal, regulated system is “safer than food” is great, but it does have some serious drawbacks. These stringent testing standards have increased costs and created a bottleneck in the supply chain that has hurt some patients, consumers and small businesses.
Leafly covered the costs and hurdles facing Oregon’s craft cannabis companies and some of the bureacratic hurdles hindering a quick fix:
“The cost to test per sample can be anywhere from $200 to $400, and you’re testing 30 samples in three lots,” said Ashley Preece Sackett, co-founder of Cascadia Labs. ”The cost for a company can come close to $30,000 just to verify that their products are consistent. And licensees have to continue regular batch package testing after verifying conformity.”
That’s extremely time-consuming for lab employees, added Preece Sackett. “It’s cost-prohibitive for most craft-scale cannabis processors, as many of these business are still in startup mode.”
Mark Pettinger of the OLCC said the agency is “always listening, learning and modifying based upon industry feedback,” so while “some rules may change, other rule changes cannot occur until the legislature meets again in early 2017.” He was unable to say exactly which rules could change and which could not, as some fall under the purview of the Oregon Health Authority.
While the debate around which state that grows the best cannabis will be around until the end of time, it certainly appears that Oregon can stake the claim that its cannabis is the cleanest cannabis on the market. However, the purity of Oregon’s cannabis has a real cost and the state needs to roll back some of these cost-prohibitive, unnecessary testing standards.I can attest that advocates, regulators and state officials are continually working on adapting the Oregon cannabis market to the needs of consumers and businesses. While fixing the over-regulation problem is too slow, I’m personally confident that Oregon will eventually find the sweet spot on regulations, protecting consumers, but also ensuring that the regulatory system isn’t too restrictive for patients, consumers and small businesses.