Santa Cruz >> Palm Springs is believed to be the first to require mandatory marijuana quality tests for dispensaries in California, which doesn’t test or have standards for cannabis. SC Labs, a Santa Cruz company, will begin testing for Palm Springs next week and hopes the city will become a model as the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry continues to boom.
“People who are taking any type of drug need to know the amount of active ingredients,” said Josh Wurzer, president of SC Labs. “When you take a (marijuana) brownie, let’s say you don’t know if there’s 10 milligrams or 100 milligrams in it. Your day or the next couple of days are ruined.”
Cannabis can vary widely between dispensaries. For many, however, testing is becoming the norm. Seeking legitimacy of the business, they send their products to a new crop of biotech labs such as 5-year-old SC Labs, which is one of the oldest and processes 8,000 samples per month from more than 200 dispensaries in California at two laboratories in Santa Cruz and Santa Ana, with a third about to open in Seattle. The laboratories issue certificates of analysis, even though it’s all unofficial.
Differing government laws prompted the self-monitoring. States where recreational use is legal have some regulation, and the federal government isn’t involved because it still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.
The inconsistency also raises concerns for communities progressively embracing marijuana, and those that will have to if the campaign to legalize marijuana succeeds in 2016.
“Right now, we’re just taking baby steps,” said Jay Thompson, Palm Springs’ chief of staff and city clerk who’s coordinating the pilot program. “Hopefully, as we get down the line, we can develop standards, but right now we’re just doing it for patient safety and for patient information.”
The four dispensaries in Palm Springs already have been testing their products own their own. Beginning Monday, they will have to submit samples to the city, which will send them to SC Labs to test potency, pesticides and microbes.
“In California’s medicinal market, where there isn’t any state regulations around testing, I think this is extremely proactive of the city of Palm Springs and speaks volumes of their commitment of keeping a progressive program,” said Robert Van Roo, president of the dispensary Palm Springs Safe Access.
The city had a tricky time working out the testing mandate’s logistics because of medical marijuana’s uneven laws. But if they’re left up to local governments, Thompson said, they could be tailored to better fit each community.
However, marijuana in California can’t stay a cottage industry, Wurzer said.
“For everyone involved, it would just be easier if there were set rules,” he said. “Vague rules allowed the industry to innovate and find itself. Now is the time that we know what we’re getting into and what we need for rules and regulation.”
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.