Lack of Testing Oversight in Oregon Raises Concerns

Dispensary owners in Oregon are concerned that the state’s lack of oversight on testing labs will create an unstable business climate, boost risks for medical marijuana centers and lead to quality and safety issues.

While Oregon’s medical marijuana dispensary regulations require centers to test products for potency and contaminants, the rules do not address the laboratories conducting the tests.

As a result, the testing market has become a “free for all,” dispensary owner Bee Young told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, adding that the rules force MMJ centers to vet testing companies on their own. Dispensaries therefore shoulder all the risks and could face repercussions from the state if they accept testing results that are inaccurate.

Another result of the new testing laws: Prices have skyrocketed since Oregon distributed dispensary licenses in March. Young, who runs the dispensary Wickit Weedery, said she now pays $250 per test, up from  $75. Given the lack of regulations and oversight on labs, she’s not sure the new price point brings any additional value to the tests.

Under Oregon’s rules, dispensaries must test their products with either a third-party or in-house lab that has a “quality system” for testing that is compliant with various standards. But it is up to the dispensaries to make sure labs meet these standards, not regulators.

Amy Margolis, a Portland attorney who served on the rules advisory committee, told the Post-Intelligencer that the process creates an “unfair burden” for dispensary owners, since a lay person cannot tell if a lab is compliant with standards.

Some lab owners believe the lack of rules opens the door for shady business practices.

“There is a lot of sub-par science in this industry,” said Patrick Marshall of Sunrise Analytical.

Several other medical marijuana states have passed rules that specifically address marijuana testing facilities. Colorado, for example, requires labs to apply for a license from the state’s department of revenue.

5 comments on “Lack of Testing Oversight in Oregon Raises Concerns
  1. James on

    Under these rules, the dispensary should be auditing the test facility. If the test facility cannot produce their own QA standard, they should be regulated out of business. It’s how it is done in various industries including pharmaceutical. Why not go with what works already and use that model? Also, the test equipment can be in house with a 3rd party QA audit system. Yes, it’s expensive but when you are selling a medicinal product and making big profits there should be a standard that assures the patient they are getting a safe product.

    Reply
  2. Ken Snoke on

    It’s important to remember that we are not alone, as many other industries have gone through similar struggles while developing quality and safety testing programs. Soon it will become easier to identify who are the legitimate labs through internal and external oversight. And prices will come back down with more competition in the testing industry. Until then, a few simple questions might help dispensaries in choosing a lab. Ask what kind of methods they use. Ask when they last calibrated their equipment. Ask what standards they use, and where they buy them. Just listening to how they respond will tell you something. If they don’t know what a standard is, that’s a red flag. If they can’t tell you when they last calibrated, that’s a red flag. The better labs will be willing to have a conversation about these questions and give you some answers. I hope that helps a little bit, and any dispensary can feel free to contact me if you’d like more help in this matter.

    Reply
  3. Stephen Cotta on

    Do you currently perform potency testing?

    If not, would you consider it?

    I have the necessary lab equipment; brand new state-of-the-art gas chromatography. I’m in Michigan and cannot see risking my equipment to a fluctuating government that has too much gray area. I can relocate with the right invitation. Looking for a sponsor or cooperation with a business which wishes to become the “Industry Standard”.

    If you are not interested but know someone who is, please refer them to me.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. djebel levinson on

    im confused as to why there isn’t an attempt to organize dispenseries to form testing co-ops.
    as far as i can tell, the regulations have almost given a road map in specifying allowance for “in-house” testing. just go ahead, cut out any ‘skeevy jenk’ that thinks that an over 250% markup in testing fees and the weak constitution of ethic that demonstrates is tenable in this nascent industry.
    I had always hoped for each one brave entrepreneur there would be hundreds of lucky and aware consumers to return that bravery transferred to something tangible and/or personally valuable back to the original risk taker.
    to get down to brass tacks: this *is* Oregon, right? I remember a co-op shoe store operating here as a kid (mid 80s)!
    so, this reminds me of this aphorism my godfather, a biker/poet wrote me when i was 11:
    “share risk among your kind, living in a small footprint.
    the excess used for things excellent, strong, and true.
    eyes up for the excessive, for waste begets initial easy lies.
    man- he was the bee’s knees.

    Reply

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