Ever smoked Myclobutanil? Or eaten a Diazinon edible?
And how would you even know?
No one would willingly inhale burned fungicide or eat bug killer, but the truth is, even this far into 2018, there’s a significant amount of it – and many other seriously harmful chemicals – still being used for cannabis cultivation in California.
But it’s not in any of your legal, licensed products.
That’s because as of July 1, all the products for sale by licensed businesses – including Eaze’s many brands and dispensary partners throughout California – have been undergoing rigorous, state-mandated testing for pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
A representative sample from every batch of products, from flower to concentrates and everything between, must first be sent to independent, state-approved testing labs. There, they either prove to be free from a laundry list of residual solvents, processing chemicals, pesticides, fungi, and other unwanted substances – or they simply cannot go out for sale.
It’s a high bar. And we have to hit it, every time.
It’s true that these new standards caused a disruption this summer in California’s supply chain, which had no testing requirements during the medical-marijuana years. That’s caused temporary headaches across the industry, as products began bottlenecking at testing labs that are neither numerous enough nor adequately equipped to handle demand.
But as consumers become increasingly aware of cannabis as a wellness tool, nothing could be more important than the assurance that everything is safe and accurately labeled.
So what are they testing for, exactly?
A wide-ranging list of things, in the neighborhood of 100 analysis points in all.
California has been phasing in testing regulations since January 1, including additional substances added to the list on July 1, known as Category II.
As of today, they include:
- Residual solvents and processing chemicals: 20 are named by the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s regulations. Six of those banned even in trace amounts, including chloroform, benzene and methylene dichloride.
- Pesticides: 66 total, including 21 that are banned even in trace amounts.
- Microbial impurities: E. coli and salmonella, specifically.
- Cannabinoids: Samples must fall within 10% of labeled amounts for THC, THCA, CBD, CBDA, CBG, and CBN or are rejected for sale.
Finally, at the end of 2018, another layer of testing becomes mandatory:
- Mycotoxins (fungus-produced): Aflatox and Ochratoxin, common in farming and plant cultivation.
- Foreign material: Non-cannabis material, such as mold, mites, dirt or foreign plant material.
- Heavy metals: Cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury, specifically.
- Terpenoids: Like cannabinoids, samples must come within 10% of labeled terpenes (non-psychoactive secretions that create plant flavors and influence effects).
Some brands were already good stewards of safety testing.
For instance, popular vaporizer cartridge maker Select says only 20% of California plants that it regularly tested over the past year – more than 3 million pounds and counting – have met its standards for oil extraction.
Think about it: 80% of all the plants in a massive sampling were rejected by one of California’s top brands for toxins before state mandated testing standards took hold.
And failed tests are not always the fault of producers. Cross-contamination via shared processing equipment is a common trip-up. Outdoor plants are vulnerable to wind-borne contaminants. In rare cases, the companies making sprays and treatments weren’t properly labeling for banned substances.
The bottom line
For producers and distributors, mandatory state testing presents a daunting matrix of potential pitfalls, a challenge with which the entire industry is grappling. And for consumers, that means fluxuations in choice and pricing.
But it’s also an assurance that what you’re ingesting is safe, healthy and as-advertised. And that’s a better choice for everyone who wants to enjoy the moment without worry.