When Nevada voted to approve recreational marijuana this past November, they had a provision, which ensured that municipalities will not be able to create their own prohibition laws, effectively making marijuana use legal all over the state.
Another aspect of Nevada’s transition to legal weed is that the cannabis industry wants to be tested. Hoping to avoid the pitfalls experienced in other legal states, voices in Nevada’s weed industry say they want the state’s stringent MMJ testing to be carried over to the recreational market.
All medical weed, legal since 2000, sold in Nevada must be tested by a third-party laboratory, so the attitude is that recreational weed might as well go through the same process.
“We need to make sure this product is safe. And the only way to make sure it’s safe is to test it,” said Kelly Zaugg, lab manager at DB Labs in Las Vegas, at a panel discussion hosted last week by the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association.
One of the first labs to test weed in Nevada is the 374 Labs, located in Sparks, just east of Reno.
Lab supervisor Jason Strull, speaking on a local NBC TV station, said his is one of just two labs that test marijuana products in Northern Nevada and that it’s fully equipped to perform all of the tests required under Nevada law.
Strull said scientists at the lab test for microbial substances, like yeast, mold, e coli, and salmonella. He said they also screen for four different heavy metals: lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury.
The lab has machines to test various cannabis products for potency. They can test for both THC and CBD content.
“We test for nine different cannabinoids,” he said.
Scientists at 374 Labs are also equipped to test for at least 19 different pesticides and five micro toxins.
Unlike Oregon, California and Colorado, which did not implement testing regulations before they legalized MMJ or recreational weed, then had to play catch-up, Nevada rolled out the testing regulations first.
Nevada requires MMJ products be tested by independent labs on a regular basis. That type of regulatory barrier has only been seen in a handful of the 28 legal states. Some, like Arizona, Michigan and Rhode Island, have no testing requirements for medical marijuana.
Strull said Nevada’s strict testing requirements make it one of the safest states to buy weed products. “It’s a lot safer than the products [people] can get on the black market because it has been tested for pesticides…so that patients know that the product they’re getting is safe.”
They also test for terpenes, which are are fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity and bind to receptors in the brain, giving rise to various effects.
Getting accurate doses is also important and can be tested for.
“If our numbers are off, then the dose is off and a potential customer is getting something way higher or lower then they anticipated,” said Strull.
Nevada lawmakers have until January 2018 to set guidelines for adult use of pot.
But, it’s on in Nevada, and the market is set to burst wide open.
With Las Vegas’ inherent tourist draw, the need for non-contaminated cannabis is magnified, said state Senator Patricia Farley at the panel discussion.
“We have 42 million people coming here,” she said. “We need to make sure they can purchase a safe product as well.”
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