Many Southern California marijuana dispensaries have been scrambling to pull cannabis products off their shelves. This comes after an investigation found that many of the stores were selling “contaminated” weed.
An investigation was conducted by NBC4 I-Team in Los Angeles. Investigators purchased 44 different cannabis products from multiple Southern California dispensaries.
They made it a point to ask if each product was free of contaminants. But, the investigation found that some of the marijuana products were covered with pesticides.
NBC Los Angeles reports that the investigators were assured by dispensary workers that every item was clean.
The marijuana was sent to Berkeley’s Steep Hill Laboratories for testing. About 93% of the cannabis products tested contained high levels of pesticides. These levels were so high, they exceeded the safety limits put in place in other states with legalized marijuana laws.
In light of the new information, Thursday, Officials from California’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation promised to address the issues by “revamping” the safety regulation which govern the testing of medical marijuana.
“I think the goal of California is to make sure the public and patients have safe cannabis and so I think it is important that we test the product and that we’re testing for pesticides,” Lori Ajax, director of California’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, told NBC Los Angeles. “All cannabis will need to be tested before it is passed on to the dispensary to be sold at retail.”
While patients may assume medical marijuana in California is already stringently tested, there are no current requirements for lab testing of products. Officials with the state’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation will establish concrete rules for testing and regulating marijuana by next year, when the state implements recreational marijuana legalization.
Massachusetts completely bans the use of chemicals in the production of medical marijuana, while states like Colorado and Oregon put strict limits on pesticide levels.
Earlier this year California’s medical marijuana program came under similar scrutiny after a man died from a fungus linked to his marijuana. After the man’s death doctors from the University of California, Davis partnered with Steep Hill Labs to test medical marijuana samples from dispensaries across the state for contaminants.
Officials said roughly 90 percent of the marijuana they tested had positive traces of some form of fungus or bacteria. While a healthy adult is not likely to be affected by these kinds of pathogens, it presents problems for medical patients with diminished immune systems.
“For the vast majority of cannabis users, this is not of great concern,” Dr. George Thompson, professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, told The Sacramento Bee in February.
Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and is legal in Washington, D.C., for recreational use. Voters in Maine, Nevada, California and Massachusetts all approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use on Election Day 2016.
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans now have access to legal pot.