Very alarming story from Noelle Crombie in The Oregonian this morning as Gary Ward, who oversees the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP), sent a memo to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) stating that ORELAP is “on the verge of collapse” from not receiving enough support from the health agency. Apparently, ORELAP was promised the resources it needed , but the program’s director argues that they have not gotten the help they need.
From The Oregonian:
“We are on the precipice of collapse of environmental, drinking water and cannabis accreditation because of the lack of resources,” he wrote.
The crisis facing the agency could have far-reaching consequences not just for Oregon’s marijuana industry but for drinking water testing. Ward notes that the agency must assess 17 drinking water labs by January 2017 “or their accreditation will expire and drinking water testing will stop at those labs.”
“The public health will be in jeopardy from potential drinking water problems and contaminated cannabis,” he wrote.
The entire article is worth reading and Crombie has noted that she’ll continue to update the story.
Gary Ward goes on to cite that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality had been providing assistance, but pressing environmental issues have eliminated their ability to assist ORELAP. Oregon has been rocked by recent discoveries of cadmium in Portland’s air and lead in the drinking water of Portland’s public schools.
The cannabis industry in Oregon will come to a virtual halt if nothing is done as all cannabis products provided to retailers after September 30th are required to be tested by ORELAP-accredited labs. OHA-regulated medical dispensaries selling to the general public can sell pre-October 1st products, but must label them as being tested under previous lab standards. Adult-use retailers, regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control (OLCC), however, have no such leeway, as state law requires ORELAP testing of all products. These recent developments with ORELAP could understandably push back OLCC’s timetable to license state retailers.
While those working in the Oregon cannabis industry should certainly be concerned about the impact this ORELAP crisis has on business, the most alarming aspect of this news is the fact that OHA is seemingly neglecting serious environmental concerns that impact everyone. The discovery of lead in Portland’s schools, and apparent cover-up, has been an outrage and knowing that drinking water testing may stop at 17 different labs just adds fuel to this burning controversy.
Oregon has been a trailblazer on many issues of social justice and environmental sustainability. However, it appears that various government agencies and bureaucrats are failing to meet the needs of our populace. This crisis must be diverted immediately. If Governor Kate Brown cannot administratively address the issue effectively, then a special session of the Oregon Legislature is needed. Not only is the life of the burgeoning cannabis industry at stake, but also literally lives all across our state.