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Pennsylvania Regulator Adds ‘Two-Lab’ Rule For Cannabis Testing

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Oct 25, 2022   

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Pennsylvania’s cannabis regulator recently approved the “final regulations” for the state’s medical cannabis program – and the new rules include one controversial requirement.

Cannabis producers are now required to have their marijuana material tested by two different labs. The first test should be carried out around the time of harvest; the second, after the cannabis has been processed into a sellable product.

The state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-0 on Thursday, October 20, to approve the final regulations after hours of debating the controversial testing provision, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Double impunity 

The new rule comes at a time when issues of THC inflation and lab shopping plague the legal cannabis industry.

Products with higher THC levels are often considered more desirable by consumers, so some cannabis companies are known to “shop” their products around different labs until one reports a high enough THC level.

But many in the Pennsylvania cannabis sector say the new two-lab rule won’t put an end to lab shopping.

Judith Cassell, an attorney with Cannabis Law PA, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that using different labs at different stages of the production process won’t shed “any light on whether the THC levels detected by the lab tests are accurate” as the THC levels may change from the time of harvest to later in the production process.

Following Cassell’s comment, Pennsylvania’s acting health secretary, Denise Johnson, said the new two-lab provision isn’t “intended to measure THC results,” but rather to ensure that contaminants like mold aren’t in the marijuana sold in the dispensaries.

Pennsylvania legalized medical cannabis in 2016. The first dispensaries opened in 2018.

Last year, a new state bill allowed patients to buy three months’ worth of their medication at a time, rather than one month’s worth. The same bill also permitted cannabis companies to remediate their products by extracting them into a topical form should they be contaminated with yeast or mold.

 

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