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National News - October 2018

Pot Doesn’t Pass the Test

CALIFORNIA - Nearly 20 percent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety.

The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: About one-third have been blocked from store shelves.

In much smaller numbers, testing companies licensed by the state are finding unacceptable levels of pesticides, solvents and bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, according to data provided to by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.

In the first two months, nearly 11,000 samples were tested and almost 2,000 failed. In some cases, the product must be destroyed. But many involve labeling issues that can be corrected. For example, a marijuana bud that's tested to show a different potency than what's on the label can be relabeled and sold with the right specification.

To the state, the strict testing program is largely doing what it was designed to do: identify marijuana buds, concentrates, munchies and other products that are in some way tainted and unsuitable for eating or smoking.

But as regulators consider recasting rules governing the nation's largest legal pot economy, they are facing pressure to revamp testing requirements that are being alternately described as going too far, not far enough, or an overly costly burden.

Rules require the THC concentration come within 10 percent of what is advertised on a product label. Company executives say some products are being rejected after landing outside the margin by tiny amounts.

At a state hearing last month, the Santa Ana-based testing company Cannalysis urged regulators to broaden their rules to include a test used in food and pharmaceutical industries that company officials say can detect a large number of potentially harmful species of mold and yeast not currently covered in state guidelines.

The company has seen examples where mold was on cannabis but the sample passed state tests.

By limiting its required review to a few mold species the state is "essentially creating a loophole where every other species can get by," she said.

The rules require all cannabis products to clear a range of tests at labs before reaching consumers, from ensuring THC is distributed evenly in chocolate bars to making sure buds have not been contaminated by fuzzy blankets of mold.

From July 1 through Aug. 29, labs tested 10,695 product batches and 1,904 were rejected, a failure rate of about 18 percent.

Claims on the label, such as THC content, accounted for 65 percent of the failures, or 1,279 tests.




                                                                                                                                                                                         

Manhattan Drops 3,000 Open Marijuana Cases

NEW YORK - Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance dropped more than 3,000 open marijuana smoking and possession cases dating back to 1978, saying the action would serve justice and address racial disparities in the prosecution of marijuana offenses.

Vance moved to vacate 3,042 outstanding warrants and dismiss the underlying charges before New York City Criminal Court Judge Kevin McGrath. The judge said the cases must be sealed within 90 days.

The district attorney’s decision applies to misdemeanor and violation cases in which a warrant was issued because the defendant failed to appear in court. It does not apply to any cases where a defendant was convicted, or to more serious charges like selling marijuana.

 “By vacating these warrants, we are preventing unnecessary future interactions with the criminal justice system,” Vance said in court.

“We made the decision that it is really in the interest of justice,” Vance said at a press conference in court after making his motion. He added that dropping the charges would remove a burden from his office and the court system.

“We have to actually look at what resources we have, what resources the court has,” he said.

Vance announced earlier this year that his office would no longer prosecute marijuana smoking and possession cases. The decision was part of a nationwide trend among state and local governments to ease enforcement or legalize the drug.

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