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Regulating Cannabis Testing: How, Why and What Challenges Remain?

Published: Oct 02, 2019   

In 2012, non-medical retail cannabis became legal in Colorado for adult use. Due to the federal prohibition on cannabis, specific guidance and standards from federal agencies for ensuring cannabis safety do not exist and this responsibility fell upon the State. Validating that laboratories are accurately testing for cannabinoid concentrations, residual solvents, and contaminants is very important to public health, but testing must be performed in-state by laboratories specifically licensed to test marijuana due to federal restrictions as well as state laws.

Colorado has developed its own standards for certification of these laboratories; however, development of these requirements, including identifying appropriate testing requirement specifications, and corresponding action levels, has been challenging given the multiple methods of use for marijuana and the lack of toxicity threshold data.

Execution of some key regulatory requirements for laboratories, such as proficiency testing, has proven to be complicated, due in part to the infancy of regulated cannabis testing and limitations imposed by marijuana’s schedule 1 classification. Colorado’s State regulatory agencies have, and continue to, work diligently through these issues with industry members, scientists and technical experts, and other interested parties to ensure competent cannabis testing to protect public health and safety.

Speaking in 2017, Heather Krug from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory Services Division discusses Colorado’s approach to cannabis testing, the importance of laboratory certification/accreditation requirements and the challenges regulatory agencies face in oversight of marijuana testing.

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