Pubdate: Wed, 16 Mar 2016
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


Industry experts say there are a lot of chemicals that could 
contaminate Hawaii's medical marijuana.

Dispensaries are set to open in Hawaii in July, and state lawmakers 
are pushing a broad bill to address many of the obstacles the 
industry is facing. One is how to regulate marijuana testing.

The proposed Hawaii law would set requirements for testing medical 
marijuana's potency and would also test for contaminants such as 
heavy metals, bacteria and pesticides, which industry experts say is 
necessary to ensure patient safety. Under state rules, dispensaries 
must send all marijuana products to a certified laboratory for testing.

Other states have had problems establishing rules on testing. That 
includes dealing with recalls because of contamination and facing 
marijuana shortages when crops were lost to pests.

"You have states stumbling around trying to figure this out," said 
Chris Walsh, managing editor of the Marijuana Business Daily. 
"They've implemented testing regulations, but in many cases they 
don't really know what they're doing." The proposed Hawaii law would 
require testing for potency of chemicals that naturally occur in 
marijuana, such as THC, the main ingredient that can cause 
psychological effects. It would also set limits and test for 
pesticides that are currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency, as well as solvents that are used to make products 
like oils and tinctures.

Most industry advocates were supportive of the Hawaii bill but wanted 
to change some of the proposed rules to increase safety and keep 
costs down for patients.

Christopher Garth, executive director of the Hawaii Dispensary 
Alliance, said testing for heavy metals could be unnecessary. 
Meanwhile he wanted stricter rules for allowable pesticide levels 
than currently required in the bill, but said the state should narrow 
the list of pesticides to ones that are likely to be used on marijuana.

Because marijuana has been federally illegal for so long, it can be 
difficult to make rules about testing because there's little research 
on it, Garth said. For instance, marijuana can be smoked, eaten or 
applied on the skin, so it can be difficult to establish policies on 
pesticide levels without data, he said.

The Hawaii Department of Health can award dispensary licenses in April.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom