Nearly a fifth of California marijuana products failing testing standards

Close to 20% of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1 – a rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety.

Testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: About one-third have been blocked from store shelves.

Below are the findings in California’s testing of legal marijuana from July 1 through Aug. 29 . There were 10,695 samples tested and 1,904 fell short, according to the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) – and some samples failed for multiple reasons:
  • Inaccurate claims on package label – 1,279 failures
  • Pesticides – 403 failures
  • Microbial impurities (mold, E. coli, salmonella) – 114 failures
  • Residual solvents, processing chemicals – 99 failures
  • Moisture (in cannabis flower) – 36 failures
  • Homogeneity (even distribution of THC) – 25 failures
  • Foreign material (insect fragments, hair) – 6 failures

The debate over testing isn’t just about lab procedures or allowable levels of pesticides. It all comes with a cost, which companies say is straining budgets.

Testing for a small, outdoor marijuana farm can typically cost $5,000 to $10,000 in California.

There have been similar complaints in Colorado, where cultivators are dealing with new, required pesticide tests, and in Washington state, where cannabis businesses are pushing for mandatory testing.

Here’s a rundown of failed batches in California by category:

  • Cannabis flower – 5,355 batches tested, 567 failures (10.6%)
  • Inhalable oils, waxes – 3,361 batches tested, 686 failures (20.4%)
  • Edibles, tinctures, lotions: 1,979 batches tested, 651 failures (32.9%)

– Associated Press

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8 comments on “Nearly a fifth of California marijuana products failing testing standards
    • Patricia Lawrence on

      Failing testing means the product does not meet limits set by the state for contaminants, is not accurately labeled with cannabinoid content, THC is not homogenous throughout an edible…

    • Eloshas on

      Here’s what I see:

      The state set some standards that cannabis manufacturers (and distributors too, methinks) have to meet in order to sell their products. The standards are designed to be somewhat aggressive so that small problems are detected before they become major crises. A lot of cannabis companies have nonexistent protocols for production, zero quality control and seem to still try to operate like they’re back in college, selling stuff out of a rented house with their buddies. Unfortunately bad things happen when you try to run an actual business like that and that’s exactly what’s happening to those who try it.

      To quote a great man, “we’re not here to f**k spiders.”

  1. George Bianchini on

    “Nearly a fifth of California marijuana products failing testing standards”
    It should read, California labs failed to provide accurate test results.
    We have had several tests fail. Two for pesticides and one for residual solvents. The easy one was the solvents, our flower product did not use any, yet failed for four different types. Most manufacturers only use one maybe two types of solvents. We had the lab retest the batch and it passed with zero solvents. Two pesticide batches failed for the same pesticide call spinosad which, Will NOT persist in the environment and is classified as an organic substance by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). OMRI Listed for use in organic production. Controls caterpillars as well as beetles, leafminers, thrips and more!
    Again since we grew the cannabis from seed we knew that this terrible nasty organic substance was not present. Again we had the lab retest, the spinosad now passed but the test found two other pesticides that failed.
    So now we sent it to a different lab. It passed with no pesticides found. Yet the THC went from 16.7% to 14.6%. Now it failed the potency test.
    The lab techs have told us that if a sample is detected with a substance with this new very expensive testing equipment that “ghost or noise” feedback in the room can fail the next several tests. The LOD and LOQ are so small that off gassing of the substance can cause other products to fail as it’s in the air. Or something like that! All I know is that the tests are expensive, not accurate and just a roll of the dice.
    The real concerns are the tests that pass due to this roll of the dice. IS THE PRODUCT THEY SAFE OR IS IT CONTAMINATED? The only benefit other than a placebo effect for the consumer are the huge taxes and fees collected by the State.
    This is what happens when the rules board is lead by the alcohol industry. CHAOS!! Cannabis has never killed anyone that did not abuse it. But, combine the alcohol industry with cannabis and we better get the body bags ready.

    • Eloshas on

      What sort of laboratory experience do you have, where you can make an informed comment about any laboratory operations (genuinely asking), and if you do have the expertise to make informed criticisms about how those laboratories operate then why didn’t you or anybody from your company actually check out the labs to make sure that you could actually trust them with your business?

      Also if whether or not your products are found to be in compliance with state law is really that much of a crap shoot then you might need to take a good, hard look at your own operational protocols. You can’t run a for real, no fooling, actual cannabis business like a guerrilla collective.

  2. Cindy F. Wilson on

    A large number of failures on account pesticides and other chemicals is a matter of deep concern. No one can deny that any overdose on such laced products could be fatal. There are thousands of patients who receive medical marijuana recommendations from renowned clinics. If they consume laced, adulterated & spurious marijuana products, then not only dispensaries but the clinics will also be at a risk of losing their trust of thousands of patients.

    • Pat on

      Cindy, are you aware of any significant untoward events ( bad outcomes ) for medical cannabis users that purchased from a dispensary that ( passed ) tested under the “old” testing standards, as it relates pesticides, mold, laced, etc..? Do you have any info w/regard to ( passed testing ) cannabis that’s being purchased now, from dispensaries using “new” testing standards? One concern that comes to mind is storage, once the cannabis is brought home. One can purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary but then store it improperly and get sickened by a molded cannabis. The individual can then get ill enough to require a different kind of medical treatment. Are you aware of significant differences between the old and new testing standards as it relates the relative risk between the two?

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