The regulatory landscape for California’s expansive cannabis industry is in flux once again. And this time, health and policy experts with the industry are drawing attention to a surprising gap in the otherwise comprehensive list of rules. On July 13, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) released its final round of regulations. And they cover just about everything, except the number of fungi in cannabis products. In other words, California’s regulations aren’t doing much at the moment to stop moldy weed from turning up on dispensary shelves.
California’s New Weed Regulations Cover Just About Everything—Except Fungus
The BCC’s July 13 proposed permanent regulations for California’s cannabis industry add to an already massively overhauled rulebook that the state’s weed businesses are perpetually struggling to keep up with.
The initial changes to the state’s regulatory code came with the official commencement of adult-use sales on January 1. Eventually, all the emergency regulations will be replaced by the permanent ones. And the July 13 set of proposals is a major step toward that eventuality.
The BCC gave businesses a 6 month grace period to adapt to the emergency rules implemented in January. But that deadline came and went on July 1, sentencing more than $350 million worth of cannabis products to unseemly deaths in trash compactors and incinerators.
Those that made it through, however, had little time to rest. Less than two weeks later, California published its proposals for permanent regulations. The industry and the public have just 17 days left to comment on the proposals.
This week, though, industry experts raised a significant counterargument. They claim the proposals fail to include a Total Yeast and Mold Count, or TYMC requirement. Without one, there’s nothing standing between moldy weed and dispensary customers.
Is California Even Listening To Cannabis Industry Experts?
The California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) is responsible for educating lawmakers and regulators about research and the industry. Part of their accountability mission goes through its Quality Control Committee. And in its review of the permanent regulations, the QCC noticed that the BCC is using a quality control test that doesn’t do a very good job detecting fungi and fungal toxins.
As a result, the CCIA repeatedly advised the BCC to add a TYMC requirement to the proposals. The association is reiterating those calls still, without any action on the part of the state.
Ignoring the QCC’s advice about mold contamination, the BCC opted for a different kind of test called a PCR. PCR tests detect microbial contaminants by screening for specific strains of DNA. It’s an industry standard in the food industry and medicine whose effectiveness several peer-reviewed studies have confirmed.
But the CCIA says that PCR tests, while effective in their own right, are too targeted and focused to detect the kind of fungal contamination that affects cannabis plants.
Co-Chair of the QCC Dr. Reggie Gaudino said there’s a disconnect between the industry and regulators in California. And that disconnect, Gaudino says, is allowing flower with 25 percent visible mold to enter the market.
Moldy weed isn’t just a question of product quality, either. Consuming cannabis products contaminated with yeast or mold can lead to serious health consequences, especially for medical users with compromised immune systems. It’s a huge concern for customer safety. But there’s still time for the Bureau of Cannabis Control to make it right.