If you have been to an Oregon dispensary lately, chances are you have noticed a shortage of non-flower products. The last time I went into a dispensary, which previously had dozens of concentrates and edible products to choose from, had just one line of edibles available, and no concentrates at all. My friends who live in Central Oregon, Portland, and Eugene all tell me that the situation is the same where they are at.
Dispensary owners in Oregon’s marijuana industry are losing a lot of money right now, patients are going without certain forms of medicine that they need/prefer, and producers are seeing a lot of their products collecting dust because they can’t get them onto store shelves. At the heart of the problem is testing issues. There have been calls for emergency fixes to address the testing issues, as they are crippling the industry and safe access right now. A temporary fix was announced today by the Oregon Health Authority. Their press release can be found below:
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced today it is modifying testing standards for medical and recreational marijuana products with new, temporary rules that balance testing costs for the marijuana industry with public health protection for consumers.
Governor Kate Brown requested agencies to develop the temporary rules so producers and processors can test fewer samples, which is expected to lower costs and create a more efficient process. The temporary rules take effect today, Friday, Dec. 2.
OHA is responsible for adopting testing standards for marijuana products that are necessary to protect public health and safety. These standards must take into account how the costs of testing will affect the cost to marijuana consumers.
Highlights of the temporary rules:
Replaces process validation with control study
Cuts three process validation tests to one control study.
A processor with a process lot that passes one control study can combine samples into one composite sample, plus a field duplicate for testing, for one year, unless the manufacturing of the product changes.
Removes alcohol-based solvents from testing requirement
Butanol, propanol and ethanol are removed from solvent analyte list.
Combines some batches for testing
Samples from multiple batches may be combined for the purposes of testing for THC and CBD if the batches are the same strain.
Samples from multiple batches, even if different strains, may be combined for the purposes of testing for pesticides if the total weight of the batches does not exceed 10 pounds.
Changes variance for potency testing of edibles
Increases the amount of homogeneity variance in edible products to plus five percent (+ 5%).
Changes labeling for potency
The THC and CDB amount required to be on a label must be within plus or minus five percent of the value calculated by the laboratory.
Since OHA permanent testing rules became enforceable on Oct. 1, 2016, the marijuana industry has reported to regulating authorities that testing costs are driving up consumer prices, creating product shortages, and causing some processors to temporarily cease operations and furlough employees.
“The Governor has been clear about the importance of the marijuana industry to Oregon’s economy,” said Jeff Rhoades, marijuana policy adviser, Office of Governor Kate Brown. “This approach keeps Oregonians employed, prevents marijuana product from slipping back into the illegal market, and continues to protect public health and safety.”
Oregon labs have notified OHA of a total of 307 samples taken from marijuana products—from dried flower to extracts—that failed for either pesticides, solvents or both since Oct. 1, 2016.
Andre Ourso, manager of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program at OHA, says he’s confident the temporary emergency rules will immediately alleviate some of the regulatory burden on the industry while still ensuring that cannabis is reasonably safe for consumers and patients.
“OHA understood the difficult situation that cannabis producers and growers were in with regard to the authority’s Oct 1. testing regulations,” Ourso said. “OHA looks forward to working with the Governor’s Office and its sister agencies in developing permanent testing rules in the near future that protect the public from harmful substances, such as illegal pesticides, yet allow for the cannabis industry to succeed in a robust regulatory environment.”
Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor's degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant