Cannabis Testing in Arizona, The last of the medical states to mandate safety testing.
No one thought about cannabis testing in November of 1996 when 65% of Arizona voters said yes to Proposition 200. An initiative that allowed the use of cannabis with a doctor’s prescription. Unfortunately Proposition 200 was repealed shortly after by state legislators, slating that the word prescribe conflicted with federal law.
Then again in November 2010, 50.1% of Arizona voters said yes to Proposition 203. Proposition 203 then paved the way for doctors to recommend medical cannabis and the state of Arizona to issue medical marijuana cards to qualifying patients. The initiative was a success and thousands of patients with debilitating illnesses were getting the medical cannabis they needed. Or so we thought..
Come to find out Proposition 203 was not written much better than its predecessor Proposition 200. There was no rules or guidelines for quality assurance testing the medical cannabis before its sale. This left a multi-billion dollar industry to regulate its self. We know what happens when an industry gets to regulate itself. Everything comes out “great”, “high-quality”, “the best”. Unfortunately patients who already had compromised immune systems were finding out this “high quality” cannabis was far from “great”.
Patients began to complain about low quality cannabis causing throat burning, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea and even respiratory failure. These patients legally could not acquire medical cannabis from another source and were forced to continue to utilize these un-tested and potentially hazardous cannabis products. Proving cannabis is contaminated after consuming it is very hard. That mingled with no state requirements for cannabis testing allowed dispensaries to grow cannabis without fear of the state rejecting a crop for pesticides, growth regulators, heavy metals, mold and more.
In any other state with medical marijuana they require each batch of cannabis products to be tested for residual solvents, mold, pesticides, growth regulators, heavy metals and more. Any products not meeting the thresholds are to be destroyed and not sold. This is a similar process to how your prescriptions, food and water are regulated. But Arizona had none of these requirements, Dispensaries had free roam to make and sell any products they want without fear of meeting a quality threshold.
Then in 2015 the Errl Cup awards and festivals begin. The Errl Cup brought about self-accountability to the industry by going out and secret shopping dispensaries for their products, blind lab testing and releasing the results for medical marijuana patient’s education and protection.
The Errl Cup voluntarily tests Cannabis products for:
Potency information = Cannabinoids like THC-A, THC, Delta-8, THC-V, CBD-A, CBD, CBD-V, CBG, CBN, and CBC. Errl Cup test potency to educate and assist patients in finding the right medicinal effects of cannabis.
Flavor profile = Terpenes like Terpinolene, Alpha-Pinene, Eucalyptol, Limonene, Linalool and 20+ more. Flavor testing is also to educate and assist patients in finding the right medicinal effects of cannabis.
Solvent Hazards = Solvents like Butane, Hexane, Acetone, Ethanol, Methane, Isopropanol and 20+ more. Errl Cup test solvents to ensure safety and quality of products. Errl Cup has a tolerance limit of 5,000 ppm, this is the same limit most states use on cannabis and the FDA places on pharmaceuticals.
Growing Hazards = Pesticides, Fungicides and Growth Regulators like Myclobutanil, Paclobutrazol, Azoxystrobin and more. Errl Cup has a zero tolerance for any banned growing hazards.
Colony Forming Unit (CFU) = Yeast and Mold colony counts. CFU gives us an idea of how many colonies of microorganisms are present in the sample. Although it does not tell us if the organisms are the dangerous ones. A generally accepted standard in other states is 10,000 CFU and that is Errl Cup’s limit as well.
The results of these blind tests were shocking. A general failure rate above 40%, and even more concerning a flower failure rate hovering around 80% for colony forming units over 10,000.
This information was a powerful source of determination to change the status quo for cannabis testing in Arizona. Patients began to ask questions, demanding lab results and walking away from untested products. This brought about a wave of self-accountability for dispensaries who began to test their products so they could provide the results to the consumers. Unfortunately these tests are expensive and since they are not required. Many dispensaries skipped the hazards testing providing only potency, believing they don’t have any problems.
This struggle goes on for a few years until June 2019, when Arizona Senate Bill 1494 is finally on the table proposing testing all medical marijuana products for potential hazards like mold, pesticides, heavy metals and growth regulators. After a fierce back and forth between legislators, SB1494 was unanimously approved 28 – 0.
But wait things aren’t “all good” yet. SB1494 establishes a council of
- THE PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF A STATEWIDE NONPROFIT ASSOCIATION REPRESENTING THE MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES, OR THE PERSON’S DESIGNEE.
- THE PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF A STATEWIDE NONPROFIT CANNABIS TESTING ASSOCIATION, OR THE PERSON’S DESIGNEE.
- THE PRESIDENT OR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF A MEDICAL MARIJUANA TRADE ASSOCIATION THAT DOES NOT PRIMARILY CONSIST OF DISPENSARIES OR CANNABIS LABORATORY TESTING FACILITY OWNERS, OR THE PERSON’S DESIGNEE.
- A REPRESENTATIVE OF A NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY WHO IS EMPLOYED BY THE DISPENSARY TO CULTIVATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND WHO HAS AT LEAST THREE YEARS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA CULTIVATION EXPERIENCE.
- A REPRESENTATIVE OF AN ARIZONA‑BASED NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY THAT PRODUCES MEDICAL MARIJUANA CONCENTRATES AND THAT HAS BEEN REGULARLY SENDING PRODUCTS FOR TESTING WHO HAS AT LEAST THREE YEARS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA EXTRACTION EXPERIENCE.
- A REPRESENTATIVE OF AN ARIZONA‑BASED NONPROFIT MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY THAT IS PRIMARILY FOCUSED IN PRODUCING MEDICAL MARIJUANA EDIBLES WHO HAS AT LEAST THREE YEARS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA EDIBLE PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE.
- AN OWNER OF AN ARIZONA‑BASED CANNABIS TESTING LABORATORY.
- A LABORATORY SCIENTIST WHO HOLDS A DOCTORATE OR A BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE AND WHO HAS AT LEAST THREE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN CANNABIS LABORATORY TESTING.
- A REGISTERED QUALIFYING PATIENT.
- A REGISTERED DESIGNATED CAREGIVER.
- A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY.
- A LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER WHO SPECIALIZES IN TREATING SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS AND WHO HAS AT LEAST FIVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE.
- ANY OTHER MEMBERS DEEMED NECESSARY BY THE DIRECTOR.
This council now has to be appointed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, Medical Marijuana Director to research and decide what safety and potency standards will need to be established for Arizona medical marijuana. These changes still would not go into effect until November 1st 2020, over 18 months after the bill was approved.
There is no telling what the council will decide is acceptable limits of hazards for Arizona Medical Marijuana. One thing is for sure, it is a step in the right direction. Cannabis safety testing is the right thing to keep our mothers, fathers and children safe from chemical and biological hazards in cannabis that they are seeking as medicine.
However these political changes don’t effect the Errl Cup events. Even though there will be mandated testing in Arizona. Errl Cup plans to continue to secret shop cannabis products off the shelf and blind laboratory test them for safety and potency. This process will serve to show consistency and honesty among the laboratory’s and dispensaries.
If you’re curious now, you can check out the over 3,000 laboratory results of Arizona medical marijuana products at errlcup.com. There are results for every dispensary and nearly every strain, this knowledge power can help you find the best cannabis products and Arizona dispensary for you.