Head of Oregon’s embattled testing program to retire

The head of the Oregon Environment Laboratory Accreditation Program, which is in charge of accrediting testing labs including those used for marijuana, will retire early next year because of job-related health reasons.

Administrator Gary Ward said his health had deteriorated because of stress stemming from an overwhelming number of lab accreditation requests that overtaxed an agency that is in understaffed by its own leadership and the Oregon Health Authority, the Statesman Journal reported.

The lack of accredited labs in Oregon has been blamed for a dramatic slowdown in the flow of product to dispensaries, forcing many to lay off employees, raise prices and, in some cases, even close.

Several months ago, Ward sent an email to labs awaiting accreditation saying his program was facing “collapse” because of a “lack of resources and the last-minute rush of cannabis labs with applications. The state had approved only three to four labs for marijuana testing at about that time, the Statesman Journal noted.

In September, Ward’s supervisors told him he faced disciplinary measures for “leaking” information to labs, which led to him having a stroke, he told the Statesman Journal.