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Oregon Stops Aspergillus Testing After Appeal From Marijuana Industry

Oregon cannabis cultivators got some much-needed relief last week when the state’s Court of Appeals granted a motion to stay rules pending legal challenge from the cannabis industry. The decision prevents the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) from enforcing its new rule requiring marijuana businesses to test for Aspergillus, a mold found in organic material such as cannabis. According to the Willamette Week

The new rule, which had taken effect on March 1st, stipulated that all cannabis companies must test their products for Aspergillus. If any traces of the fungus were found in the product, it would be subject to recall. This posed a significant threat to Oregon’s struggling weed industry, which argued that cannabis containing Aspergillus has not been linked to any illnesses or deaths in the state and that testing for it could further harm an industry already facing oversupply and low prices.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the OHA should have explored a more flexible approach to regulating Aspergillus, citing potential “irreparable harm” to cannabis companies if a stay was not granted. The ruling is effective immediately, and cannabis businesses are relieved that they will be able to continue to operate without worrying about the financial burden of mandatory testing for Aspergillus until a legal challenge is settled.

Impact on Cannabis Businesses

The court’s decision to stay the rule places a much-needed burden of relief on small cannabis companies in Oregon. These businesses have been struggling against an oversupply of marijuana and low prices, so the mandatory testing requirement for Aspergillus could have put them out of business.

Now that the rule is temporarily suspended, these cultivators can focus on selling their products without worrying about the additional cost and effort associated with testing. The suspension also makes it easier for outdoor growers to harvest their crops, as many feared that the rule would have put them behind schedule due to delayed test results.

While this ruling offers some relief to cultivators in the short term, there is still uncertainty surrounding what will happen once the lawsuit is settled. It’s possible that the court will require a new rulemaking process, which could take months or longer to complete. The OHA may also choose to appeal the ruling, prolonging the wait even further before businesses can resume operations as usual. Until then, Oregon’s weed companies will have to remain in a state of uncertainty while they wait to see how the situation will play out.

Uncertainty Around Aspergillus Testing

Aspergillus testing has been a source of contention among cannabis regulators and producers for quite some time. The fungus is present in all organic materials, but the extent to which it is found in cannabis products has not been well-studied, making it difficult to determine what levels should fail or pass a test. So far, no evidence is linking Aspergillus in cannabis products to any illnesses or deaths, further complicating the issue.

Because of the lack of research and evidence, some states have decided to leave testing for Aspergillus up to the producer’s discretion. However, other states such as Arizona and California have seen recalls of cannabis products due to traces of Aspergillus, leading them to require stricter testing regulations.

It is important to note that even though it has been reported any adverse side effects, Aspergillus can still potentially pose a health risk to immunocompromised individuals. This emphasizes the need for further research and regulation to ensure that cannabis products remain safe for consumers.

Cannabis is an organic material and, as such, is prone to mold growth. While there have been no reported cases of people being harmed by the presence of Aspergillus in marijuana products, it is still essential for state regulators and producers to be diligent in monitoring the safety of their products. Going forward, more research needs to be done in order to find a baseline on what levels of Aspergillus are safe and which are potentially hazardous. In the meantime, cannabis businesses in Oregon will be relieved to have some regulatory relief until a legal challenge can be settled.

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