by Friday Foster
Researchers are working fast to figure out a quality control solution, especially since weed is now legal in Colorado and Washington.
Although the Department of Justice announced that it will allow Colorado and Washington’s new recreational pot laws proceed, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and that means that government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration won’t oversee the testing and policing of the products.
So it’s up to the states to come up with a testing and certification process.
“It’s important for us to do it because it’s public safety and there’s no U.S. FDA oversight here,” said Randy Simmons, the Washington State Liquor Control Board project manager in charge of implementing Initiative 502 which legalized marijuana for recreational use, to NBC News. “Things that would be FDA rules don’t exist.”
Many states, including Washington and Colorado, already require quality control testing of marijuana.
“Through Colorado’s robust regulatory regime, marijuana businesses will soon be required to test their marijuana for potency and harmful contaminants such as mold, mildew, pesticides, and microbials,” Michael Elliott of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group told The Huffington Post. “These new testing regimes will help protect consumer safety, and ensure that marijuana being sold through the regulated businesses is far safer than marijuana being sold through the black market.”
The 136-page rule book for the retail marijuana industry in Colorado has detailed instructions regarding quality control and contaminant tests including testing for molds, mildew, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and general filth along with labeling that states the results of those tests and if they were performed.
Labels will also detail the potency of a marijuana product and the compounds that are contained therein.
“By regulating marijuana and requiring that it conform to reasonable standards we can ensure it does not present any undue harm to consumers,” Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and key backer of Colorado’s marijuana legalizing Amendment 64, said to HuffPost. “It makes little sense to force marijuana into the underground market where we are virtually guaranteeing it will not be tested.”
Moldy marijuana is nothing new. Back in 2009, marijuana industry blog Spark Report wrote that finding mold on marijuana is actually quite common. “Anyone who has smoked marijuana more than a couple times has most likely inhaled mold spores from marijuana,” the blog states. “That may sound alarming, however its important to remember that you are likely to inhale the same or similar mold spores while taking a walk in the park. The most common type of mold, Aspergillus, occurs naturally in almost everything in nature.”
Moldy marijuana can cause respiratory or other flu-like symptoms in some people. Another concern is that several of the chemicals applied to pot plants are intended only for lawns and other non-edibles but Medical cannabis samples collected in Los Angeles have been found to contain pesticide residues at levels 1600 times the legal digestible amount.
Since weed is primarily inhaled rather than eaten, the toxins it carries get into the lungs and blood stream much faster.