The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) approved new marijuana testing regulations, which will take effect on March 31, 2023. OHA issued a bulletin clarifying the rule changes, but the agency emphasizes that licensees should not depend primarily on the bulletin and should evaluate all applicable rule revisions. The new guidelines significantly affect batching and sample requirements, control studies, and quality and control tests.
Many people in the cannabis sector are concerned about Oregon’s new cannabis testing standards. These restrictions apply to heavy metals as well as microbiological pollutants. The rumor is that many failed tests are unavoidable if the laboratories do their duties properly.
What To Expect From The New Lab Testing Regulations
According to the relevant OHA bulletin, all marijuana and hemp-derived vapor items grown or made on or after March 1, 2023, must be checked for heavy metals and microbiological containments.
This is in addition to existing testing criteria, such as those for mycotoxins, which went into force in July.
All testing for finished inhalable cannabis products, concentrates, and extracts must be done on the finished item. Once the new tests are in place, no additional testing will be required; however, licensees might decide to process marijuana that has passed pesticide testing while processing extracts to be eligible for remediation. Other finished cannabis products will only need a potency test.
For example, from March 1, 2023, water activity and moisture content tests on marijuana or usable marijuana will not be necessary if it will be turned into a concentrate or extract. The resulting concentration or extract must examine pesticides, solvents, potency, mycotoxins, heavy metals, and microbiological contaminants. It should be noted that if an item passes a test before it is needed, the test result does not transfer to the newly formed item.
A Little Too Late
While the new testing laws mean that users in Oregon can rest assured knowing their flower is safe, these regulations should have been put in place from the get-go—that way, cannabis producers could prepare for the new standards without much hassle. Instead, the new laws may cause problems for marijuana producers, processors, and any remaining hemp cultivators.
Not to mention that if a flower is sent from a producer to a processor and then to a lab, there will be arguments about where, when, and how contaminants got into a rejected product. Almost no one in the Oregon industry, based mainly on fundamental purchase orders and “net terms” transactions, is negotiating liability, indemnities, or other pertinent testing concerns through a contract.
Overwhelmed By Policies And Processes
We sympathize with Oregon cannabis licensees struggling to keep up with administrative rules and policy changes, despite OLCC and OHA issuing a regular stream of bulletins, notices, etc. There are so many changes happening all the time.
Every year, the legislature enacts a slew of new cannabis laws. We had 14 of these in the previous two sessions alone. Some of these measures are small, but others are comprehensive, causing changes throughout the program. These changes occur as a result of round-after-round rulemaking.
In turn, new rules may be supported by written policy statements and explanations, in addition to OLCC’s many unwritten policies and processes, many of which have changed through time. In other situations, the OLCC will create rules on its own initiative, frequently in response to market behavior rather than at legislators’ requests.
With regard to these new testing criteria, several labs have taken the lead in informing their clients; this is really useful, given the underlying OHA bulletin is about a year old at this point, and we don’t see anything fresher on the OHA or OLCC websites about these impending strictures.
The new rules are what they are. Individuals must find out how to keep heavy metals and toxins out of regulated Oregon cannabis and deal with failed cannabis testing. Reanalysis and disposal processes will be the key concerns. Economic consequences and liability in the case of an unsalvageable product are essential corollaries.
Anyone in this program long enough knows that the consequences of cannabis testing are nothing new in Oregon. Much of the marijuana intended for this new testing paradigm is already in bloom. Let’s see how this story develops over the following month.
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