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Arizona Marijuana Tainted With Pesticides, Tests Show

Everyone assumes someone else is looking out for them. But sometimes AZ labs clear weed as OK when it’s contaminated

Phoenix New Times

Cannabis isn’t as tightly regulated in Arizona as you might think, reports the Arizona Republic.

Arizona, like most states with legal adult-use marijuana, requires growers to submit products to state-licensed labs before the weed is sold in dispensaries. But unlike other states, regulators in Arizona don’t do their own testing to ensure the Cannabis is safe.

The state requires marijuana dispensaries to provide detailed laboratory testing results to anyone who asks — but it’s rare anyone does that. And sometimes, the labs clear weed as just fine when it’s contaminated with pesticides.

Everyone assumes ”someone else” is looking out for them. In this case, it’s quite possible that nobody has your back.

Shoppers Focus Upon Potency

The rules require a state-licensed laboratory to analyze the potency of the marijuana — and that’s definitely something shoppers often focus upon. But the rules also require products free of pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals, solvents and microbial contaminants like E. coli bacteria.

Arizona has required compliance tests since November 2020, reports the Republic. Back then, only medical marijuana sales were legal. Dispensaries must have a passing lab analysis — one that shows no contamination — for every product on the shelves.

The lab results are technically called a “certificate of analysis.” The multipage reports list each batch number of weed from the grower. That should match the batch number on the packaging of the marijuana or marijuana product.

“I Want To Know What Is Going Into My Body Will Help”

Amy Donohue is a marijuana social media adviser and medical Cannabis patient in Arizona. Donohue said she always recommends weed consumers — particularly medical patients — request lab results when buying marijuana.

“I want to know what is going into my body will help whatever I’m trying to fight internally,” she said. Donohue added it’s important to know products are clean, so they don’t exacerbate any health issues.

“I’m very particular about that,” she said.

About half the time she asks, she gets the results without a problem. But the rest of the time dispensary workers seem perplexed by the question, she said.

“Adult-Use Customers Probably Don’t Even Know The Tests Exist”

With adult-use sales launching last year, a whole new crop of customers is spending money at dispensaries.

“Adult-use customers probably don’t even know test results exist,” Donohue said. “They are just happy to buy legally.”

DHS rules not only require dispensaries to provide the results. They also require dispensaries to have information available regarding “how to read and understand the final report of testing.”

“You have to demand it as consumers and as patients, and I don’t think a lot of people do,” Donohue said. Properly informed consumers, of course, might act differently.

Some dispensaries have the lab results ready to give customers, as required; others do not. Some products simply have QR codes on the packaging. Customers can scan those with a smartphone to visit a website with that grower’s lab results.

Arizona Tests Reveal Problems

Rules are designed to ensure marijuana and Cannabis products like edible candies are safe from contaminants. But The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Department of Health Services found problems.

In September, the DHS got a tip that a dispensary was possibly selling pesticide-contaminated marijuana. But state didn’t find any contamination; they didn’t issue a recall. Instead, regulators audited the laboratory that tested the Cannabis, “found no malfeasance,” and promptly closed the case.

The Republic found two strains of Cannabis with extremely high pesticide contamination being sold at a Phoenix dispensary, not long after that. Incredibly, they had “passing” lab reports from a state certified lab.

The newspaper’s investigation involved purchasing Cannabis at a Phoenix dispensary and testing it at a lab in the city.

Industry Experts Are Concerned

The DHS investigated the lab and found it did not falsify the results. Meanwhile, officials at the company, Grow Sciences, said they knew they had contaminated products. But they claimed they “tried” to separate the good from the bad before shipping the weed to dispensaries.

Industry experts like Joe DeMenna said they are concerned that if a high-end company like Grow Sciences sold contaminated marijuana, it could happen with other companies as well.

Those aren’t the only such problems. For example, the state found a lab called OnPoint cherry-picked the best looking Cannabis when conducting potency tests. That ”may have”misleadingly inflated the potency reported for weed the lab tested.

OnPoint agreed to pay nearly $470,000 to settle with the state over the potency issue and other problems. It’s unknown how many people purchased Cannabis with misleading potencies on the label because of the lab’s, er, ”problems.”

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