With California set to officially legalize marijuana on New Year’s Day, some users might not be aware that most of the cannabis in the market or in production contains molds, pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants.
Currently, weed farming and production in California is unregulated as the state only plans to put regulatory controls eventually after January 1, 2018. Unlike other crops, currently, the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Agriculture Department do not test marijuana for safety.
Professor Donald Land, who works with the University of California’s chemistry department and also with Steep Hill Labs., Inc. that specializes in marijuana testing across the US as a consultant cautions all cannabis users against using the product in the current market. At the start of this year, the KNBC-TV team traveled to Southern California and randomly collected cannabis samples from 15 dispensaries for testing by Professor Land’s team. Surprisingly, the team found that 93 percent of the samples contained pesticides.
The state plans to implement stiffer testing requirements and regulations come 2018, but vendors and growers are allowed 6 months to sell their existing stock under a lenient medical cannabis program.
The state officials tasked with the recreational weed plan had to beat a one-year timeline to develop laws, licensing, and taxation structure for it, and the resulting pressure led them to deciding that any weed being grown, processed or on sale should be exempt from the strict upcoming testing standards.
Online marijuana shops and other shops have six months to sell their current stock of weed before it will be subject to testing standards.
Starting January 1, 2018, all of the marijuana harvested or processed will be subject to testing for contaminants and potency. The state is planning to create and enforce more laws for the industry by the start of 2019.
Alex Traverso, spokesman for Bureau of Cannabis reveals that when the rules come in place any untested marijuana will be labeled. He also said that the purpose of legislation is to establish rules that lower public health risk and improve product quality.
Alex said that once people see a sticker cautioning the product has not been labeled, they will make a decision on whether to take the risk of consuming an untested product or not.
Professor Land estimated less than 5 percent of land for cultivating medical marijuana is tested. Currently, in California only medical marijuana is legal.
With the rapid changes that will transform the marijuana industry being implemented, related businesses such as online marijuana sellers, growers, manufacturers, shops, and shadows should extensively study the upcoming regulations in time as this will save them a lot of trouble.
According to Juan Hildago, agricultural commissioner for Santa Cruz County, pesticide use is a major issue, and it’s necessary that the regulatory authorities know the type of pesticide being applied and how on-site workers are protected.
Juan proposes that farmers planning to spray their own pesticides should be required to take a series of test to get a certificate from the commissioner. He further proposes that they should be required to take refresher courses every three years.
Mike Winderman, manager of The Green East Easy in Los Angeles says that the idea of eliminating pesticides is good, but the issue has been exaggerated because most of the crops in the market that people eat and grow are grow with pesticides and even organic crops are subject to contamination from pesticides drifting from nearby gardens or farms.
Winderman find it funny that in 2017 everybody is wary of pesticides yet some people have been using weed for 3, 4, or even 5 decades without experiencing health problems.
Customarily, regulatory authorities test products for potency only. The regulatory authorities about to be implemented have serious impacts on people like Winderman, including lowering prices as a result of limited shelf life brought about by strict regulatory controls.
According to Winderman the changes will have far-reaching effects, including some sellers piling up stock for tax evasion purposes as the taxes to come in place on Jan. 1 may force small marijuana dispensaries and other small industry stakeholders who cannot afford to pay registration fee out of the market, resulting in scarcity of some common products on the shelves.
While most of the product being grown an in the market is contaminated, users may be using it because there lack an alternative. But as recreational marijuana gets legalized, the market demand with rise and to ensure the public gets safe, quality cannabis, there is need to regulate how the products will be grown and processed. The state has several measures in place to ensure this.