The legalisation of cannabis brings hope for safe and regulated products, however, recent revelations about manipulations in Colorado created some doubts. The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has discovered an alarming trend of companies faking contaminant testing results to comply with legal requirements. Since the start of recreational marijuana sales, mould and pesticide contamination have been ongoing problems that pose a serious risk to public health.
What happened on the cannabis market in Colorado?
Thirteen marijuana recalls have occurred in Colorado this year alone due to contamination, including the presence of microbes, mould, and yeast. Although the MED has approved cleaning techniques, they are costly and occasionally ineffective in saving contaminated harvests. Businesses face a large financial burden when cleanup, retesting, or even destroying the entire crop is necessary. The acceptance of various remediation methods, such as the use of UV light and ozone machines to get rid of mould, has unintentionally opened an opportunity that some producers take advantage of.
Some growers use fabricating testing samples as a last option to avoid the cost of not succeeding tests. There have been shocking reports that farmers use radon machines, microwave marijuana blossoms, and manipulate with samples using hydrogen peroxide. These actions risk not only public safety but also the legitimacy of the legal cannabis industry. Results from external laboratories may seem to be ok. However, in such cases the results will not reflect the whole adulterated batch.
What can be done to prevent manipulations?
The MED just implemented a stricter approach. Business owners now face harsh penalties if they intentionally modify or falsify cannabis testing samples. These penalties can include severe fines, licence suspension or revocation, or even threatening public safety crime. The MED’s stronger enforcement tactics are intended to discourage companies from risking safety and trust of consumers in legal cannabis goods.
The settlement information including one of Colorado’s largest cannabis recalls in history, Bonsai Cultivation, illuminated the scope of the issue. Bonsai was subjected to sanctions and probation as a result of its manipulation of marijuana samples to achieve process validation, which involved unauthorised use of hydrogen peroxide, UV light, and ozone equipment.
Since the start, contamination, mostly brought on by mould or illicit chemicals, has plagued the Colorado cannabis business. According to reports, about 80% of the dispensaries surveyed would have failed the state’s mould tests in 2018. Even though there are repair methods, getting growers to comply is still difficult. The MED has issued a number of recalls recently, highlighting the urgent need for better compliance controls.
There are a few countries in Europe aiming to legalise cannabis for recreational use. They should look at all risks which may occur in this market. For example, Germany is trying to learn from other countries before making any decisions. Nevertheless strong regulation and good compliance will be crucial to keep the market safe.