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Oregon’s Cannabis Lab-Testing Program on Verge of Collapse

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Under Oregon’s recreational marijuana system, beginning on Oct. 1, all marijuana sold to the public must be tested by an accredited lab for potency and purity.

These testing labs must be accredited by the Oregon Environmental Lab Accreditation Program (ORELAP) and licensed by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

There are, however, only two such labs currently accredited to test a lot of pot—and harvest season is upon us.

Gary Ward, ORELAP administrator, said in a memo reported by OregonLive that the Oregon Health Authority has not provided the necessary resources to undertake the job of accrediting laboratories, and that the agency is “on the precipice of collapse.”

The testing program, intended to address pesticide contamination, is a division of Oregon’s health authority, which also accredits labs that test drinking water, air and industrial waste.

The Health Authority issued a statement saying it is “committed to taking steps to ensure environmental laboratory accreditation even with growing demand.”

Meanwhile, Oregon Liquor and Control Commission inspectors are working full-time to get hundreds of indoor grow facilities licensed before the end of the year, noting that licensing outdoor grow facilities took longer than expected, KOIN6 reports.

The slow pace of accreditation means consumers may see fewer products than expected on the shelves when the state rolls out its recreational program on October 1st.

Amy Margolis, an attorney who represents marijuana businesses, said without additional accredited labs, the industry’s viability is threatened.

“If they don’t get funding and resources, the entire industry will come to a full stop,” Margolis warns.

Not if Green Leaf Lab, one of only two licensed labs in Oregon, can help it.

“When we started, nobody in Oregon really knew what cannabis testing was,” lab owner Rowshan Reordan told KATU 2.

Green Leaf chemist Emily Weatherford said she feels like she is keeping cannabis users safe: “I’m thinking about the cancer patient who can’t risk smoking weed that has mold on it because they have a compromised immune system.”

Now Oregon health authorities need to authorize the nearly two-dozen other labs that have applied for testing licenses so everyone is safe, and to ensure dispensary shelves will be fully stocked on October 1st.

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Maureen Meehan
Written By

Maureen Meehan is a New York-based writer, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for many years.

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