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Cannabis Testing Standards for Smoking vs. Edibles Market in California

Original video from the Future Cannabis Project YouTube Channel

Published: Jan 18, 2018   

Kevin Jodrey of Wonderland Nursery talks about lab testing standards in California beginning in 2018 for contaminants and pesticides. 

Surprisingly, there will potentially be different standards for flower and oil that goes to the smoking / vaping market versus raw material going to the edibles market.

Flower and concentrate tested for the smoking market will be held to high standards of what can be detected, such as residual mold, mildew, and pesticides, and at what trace levels. The same raw material destined for the edibles market may include higher levels of contaminants, such as rat poop, and pesticides. And it seems like some pesticides that are banned would be allowed to be detected for raw material going to the edibles market.

In the new regulations, the list of banned pesticides has shrunk dramatically, from 42 to 21. One of these now-allowed pesticides is a neonicotinoid (acetamiprid) and four others have “high acute toxicity” to humans, according to the initial statement of reasons (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, naled, and abamectin). Most of the rest of the now-allowed pesticides were banned in the original proposal due to environmental concerns, including myclobutanil (often sold Eagle-20).

It appears that the limits were not based on environmental concerns either: Of the seven least regulated pesticides (i.e. those with the highest allowable limits), five were originally banned due to potential ground water contamination.

For inhaled products, the limits still appear to be based on tobacco, as described in the initial statement of reasons. This may be because very little is known about the effects of heating or burning pesticides (an information vacuum attributable to lobbying from the tobacco industry). Some pesticides will, in fact, become safer when burned, while many others will break down to much more toxic compounds.

The foreign material testing, described in §5722, is beyond the pale. §5722(e) states that:

A sample shall be deemed to have passed the foreign material testing if the presence of foreign material does not exceed:

(1) 1/4 of the total sample area covered by sand, soil, cinders, or dirt;

(2) 1/4 of the total sample area covered by mold;

(3) 1 insect fragment, 1 rodent hair, or 1 count mammalian excreta per 3.0 grams; or

(4) 1/4 of the total sample area covered by animbedded foreign material.

A small piece of chocolate weighs about 3.5 grams. Under the new regulations, a 16-piece chocolate bar would be considered acceptable if four pieces were covered in dirt, four more were covered in mold, and each of the 16 pieces had an insect part or rat poop on it.

Under the new proposal, products only need to be screened for three microbes: pathogenic E. coli, salmonella, and in the case of inhaled products, aspergillus. 

Mold is one of the most common contaminants on cannabis. It is absolutely essential to test for mold on cannabis, particularly when grown indoors.

Interview conducted by Future Cannabis Project contributor Kerry Reynolds.

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