As the interest in legal cannabis grows, government agencies and consumers alike will want to know what they are consuming. Cannabis testing of products is becoming a standard in all states that legalize medicinal use or recreational use marijuana. The standards for this testing vary state to state. In some states cannabis testing is carried out similarly to that of pharmaceuticals. Some states are testing for purity, contaminants, and potency, while others are testing for only 2 or 1 of those elements.
The cannabis industry has looked to the federal level for guidance on cannabis testing, but have received no help from federal agencies. Cannabis carries a schedule I designation under the Controlled Substances Act, designated by the DEA thus making it an illegal drug. Because of the illegality of marijuana federal agencies refuse to issue any standards regarding cannabis testing or any other form of regulation dealing with the drug. The federal government has taken a hard stance that even with states legalizing both medical and recreations use of the plant, federally these agencies see the drugs as an illegal substance. The federal government’s stance on the issue leaves states to individual mandate testing as they see appropriate for their states and consumers.
State regulators have had no guidance from the federal agencies that usually set health and safety standards for agriculture, food and medicine because the federal government considers marijuana to be illegal. They have been hampered by the fact that there’s little research on how marijuana tainted with potential toxins affects humans, partly because the federal government funds limited marijuana research. And they’ve also had to adjust testing regulations to reflect the costs and amount of tests fledgling legal marijuana markets can handle.
In Oregon, for instance, initial rules rolled out in October 2016 for marijuana testing and laboratory accreditation contributed to backlogs at laboratories and shortages of product on dispensary shelves. Regulators, seeking to ease the pressure on the market, issued new rules that December that reduced the number of times a harvest, or a batch of chocolates or candies, would have to be tested.
As insurance specialists, we at S2S Insurance want to provide cannabis business owners with the necessary information to make wise decisions that will impact the success of their business. We would tell all businesses owners to become aware of the requirements in their particular state regarding testing. Understanding the regulations in your state early in the business planning process can help a business owner begin to estimate costs. Laboratory testing of any kind is never inexpensive and cannabis testing is no different. Cannabis business owners should not overlook this requirement if it is a state mandate. Business owners should also be aware of the risks that are associated with cannabis testing and protect themselves. While cannabis testing is meant to protect the end consumer mistakes are made. Testing is complicated and requires the upmost attention to detail which creates room for error. The margin for error increases as the requirements become more stringent. Business owners should be protect themselves with product liability insurance that can help mitigate risk in case of issues of recalls, production stoppages, and law suits.