On July 1, a slew of strict new regulations and product requirements went into effect across California’s legal cannabis industry. Dubbed the “Marijuanapocalypse,” the regulatory changes required the destruction of millions of dollars of cannabis products that suddenly no longer met standards. New testing requirements also led to a backlog, preventing products from making it to dispensary shelves. Many criticized the changes, expressing frustration at the ramped up regulations and doubting whether they really delivered on safer products or simply created supply chain chaos. Now, two months into the new testing lab requirements, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has released the testing results so far. And nearly twenty percent of the products tested have failed.
Which Cannabis Products Failed and Why?
In the two months following the implementation of the new testing rules, California managed to test 10,695 samples, according to the AP. Of those, 1,904 failed Bureau of Cannabis Control requirements. In other words, 18 percent of all cannabis products tested in California did not meet standards.
But the number one reason for failure wasn’t pesticides (403) or mold contamination (114). It wasn’t residual solvents or chemicals (99) or foreign materials (6). Rather, a full two-thirds of all the failures (1,279) were due to inaccurate packaging; claims that didn’t match up against the actual products therein.
And in terms of the types of products, edibles, tinctures and lotions had the highest rate of failure: 33 percent. Cannabis buds had the lowest failure rate at 10.6 percent, while oils and waxes (i.e. concentrates) for vaping and dabbing split the difference at 20.4 percent.
Industry Demands Rule Changes To Avoid Destroying So Much Product
California’s cannabis industry is doing a relatively decent job of keeping harmful contaminants and additives out of its supply chain. But new packaging and labeling requirements have clearly made it difficult for manufacturers to accurately describe products.
While the industry works to adapt to these changes, they’re asking regulators for some changes of their own. First, they want to be able to relabel products that failed due to inaccurate packaging. Except for cannabis buds, producers can’t relabel inaccurately labeled products. Instead, they have to destroy them. So if a product spec’d at 75 percent THC was really 90 percent, it would have to be thrown away. A retailer couldn’t sell it in new, correct packaging.
Second, given the difficulty of achieving “homogeneity,” a regulatory term for an even distribution of THC in a batch of edibles, the industry wants to allow edibles to have a variance of plus/minus 20 percent what the label says. Currently, the rule only allows plus/minus 10 percent.
Finally, cultivators want to be able to cut down on the costs of product testing. Currently, the rules require testing different strains independently, even if they come from the same cultivator who cultivates them at the same time.