Rules Leave Pot Test Labs With Little Oversight In Oregon

The state’s dispensary law and the rules that implement it require pot stores to register with the state and to test marijuana for contaminants and potency before putting it on their shelves.

But the law doesn’t require the labs that run those tests to be licensed or regulated by the state. And no state agency oversees their operations to ensure they actually run the tests they say they do.

“We don’t have stories of people being hurt or anything bad happening,” said Geoff Sugerman, a medical marijuana consultant who helped draft the state’s rules, adding that most of Oregon’s pot tests safe.

Even so, some pot advocates and dispensary owners say the law needs to change to better protect patients, dispensaries and even the testing facilities themselves. Members of the testing industry are also concerned that labs using invalid methods could put people at risk and damage the credibility of marijuana testing in general.

For many types of laboratories, government agencies and independent organizations enforce federal or state standards such as personnel qualifications, training requirements, equipment certifications and testing methods.

However, when it comes to medical marijuana testing labs, none of those standards exist. Members of the committee that drafted the state’s dispensary rules say they weren’t given the authority to create them.

The law requires dispensaries to screen pot for pesticides, mold and fungus to ensure it is safe for patients, many of whom may have compromised immune systems. Dispensary owners must keep a signed lab report on file showing the results, and that’s subject to inspection at least once a year. But the state does not monitor the tests or lab procedures. State officials don’t even know how many test labs are in the state, because they are not licensed.

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