SEATTLE, WA / ACCESSWIRE / July 6, 2015 / Cannabis may seem like a tightly controlled market on the surface, but lax state laws, inconsistent lab practices, and inaccurate test results have introduced dangers to users. In a joint investigation, Oregon Live and the Oregonian tested ten popular marijuana concentrates in Oregon and found that nearly all of them contained pesticides. A total of 14 chemicals were found in eight of the samples, including six that the federal government considers carcinogenic.
Traditional pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) or Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK), are required to undergo extensive clinical trials to evaluate the safety of their products, while production is subject to rigorous quality and manufacturing rules, known as CGMP standards. Marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles manufacturers aren't subjected to nearly as rigorous standards, despite the high risk for contamination and other issues.
Under most states' regulations, to the extent they exist, companies developing cannabis products must simply submit samples to state-certified independent laboratories for a small fee and obtain a certificate showing that the samples are free from harmful chemicals. The problem is that the sample is just that - a sample, and state rules don't cover many common pesticides used in marijuana cultivation - even known toxic chemicals. Moreover, testing lab results themselves are often inaccurate.
Evolving State Rules
Many states that have approved medical and recreational marijuana have been slow to adopt appropriate testing standards to ensure product quality. In fact, Colorado had no protocols in place when the state first legalized the drug. It wasn't until a series of overdoses made national news that the state established a testing program to ensure product safety. Similarly, Washington State didn't introduce its testing requirements until 2013 when recreational cannabis became legal.
The good news is that states are beginning to realize the scope of problems associated with both safety and labeling accuracy. Oregon, Massachusetts, and most new medical marijuana states have at least begun including lab certifications in their regulations. Industry organizations like the Association of Commercial Cannabis Laboratories ("ACCL") also promise to help produce consistent, accurate results using a common set of criteria.
The bad news is that testing rules have been slow to be established and progress, and there is actually a shortage of cannabis testing facilities nationwide. For instance, the only private lab approved to test cannabis in New Mexico closed its doors, leaving producers empty-handed when it comes to complying with the state's quality assurance standards. Some in New Mexico have urged the state to pursue government testing at its $86 million taxpayer-funded laboratory that is currently responsible for a wide array of other tests.
Cleaning Up the Industry
DigiPath Inc. (DIGP), one of the few publicly-traded cannabis companies, recently opened one of just three certified cannabis testing laboratories in the State of Nevada. Led by Dr. Cindy Orser, Ph.D., a 20-year biotech and diagnostic industry veteran, the company has spared no expenses in equipping the lab with ultra-sensitive Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) instrumentation that enables both highly-accurate and replicable testing results in just 48 hours.
Samples are visually inspected for foreign matter and then tested for the presence of microbes, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents used in the making of cannabis-based concentrates. In addition, the cannabis flower is analyzed for moisture levels in order to ensure that they were properly cured. A detailed cannabinoid and terpenoid potency profile is then provided so patients, caregivers, and dispensary staff can match the product to the patient.
Dr. Orser leads these efforts on behalf of DigiPath, serving as the liaison between cannabis providers and regulatory agencies, including the FDA and CDC, as well as working in academia in several key roles. In addition to her work, she holds 18 patents and has authored 41 peer-reviewed publications, after earning her Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley and BS in Botany from Montana State University.
The cannabis testing industry is projected to be worth about $850 million in size, according to GreenWave Advisors, with a limited number of publicly traded companies in the space, including DigiPath, CannLabs Inc. (CANL), and Pazoo Inc. (PZOO). With awareness of testing deficiencies rising among consumers and regulators, the industry could see stricter regulations on the horizon that could help the testing industry expand.
Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this article contain forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Important factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to, the demand for the company's services and the company's ability to execute its business plan. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, is not registered with any financial or securities regulatory authority, and does not provide nor claim to provide investment advice or recommendations to readers of this release. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, may from time to time have a position in the securities mentioned herein and may increase or decrease such positions without notice. For making specific investment decisions, readers should seek their own advice. Emerging Growth LLC dba TDM Financial, which owns CannabisFN, has been compensated for its services in the form of cash and equity securities by DigiPath. For full disclosure please visit: http://www.cannabisfn.com/legal-disclaimer/.
SOURCE: Cannabis Financial Network