Article by Charlie Smith, The Georgia Straight
Should dispensaries and licensed producers be regulated in a manner similar to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s oversight of food safety?
The U.S.–based Cannabis Safety Institute published a paper in 2015 noting that “pesticide use is widespread” and “entirely unregulated” in the marijuana industry. It recommended that laboratories “must be supplied with clear instructions” on which ones to test for.
The institute also pointed out that heavy metals, including arsenic, can be found in soils and in poorly manufactured herbicides—and they can be absorbed by cannabis plants.
But Vancouver marijuana-industry advocate Dana Larsen told the Georgia Straight by phone that dispensaries are often hamstrung if they want to talk about the purity of their products.
That’s because Health Canada prohibits licensed labs from testing “illegal” marijuana supplied to them by retail dispensaries.
“So if I send them a bunch of buds from my dispensary and say ‘test this,’ they won’t do it,” Larsen stated. “Because of that, I can’t put on my website that ‘these buds were tested by so-and-so.’ ”
He said that at his Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, staff examines buds or hash products under a microscope. And this makes it possible to spot mould or mildew.
“If it passes the microscope test, then we do a taste test,” Larsen stated. “We smoke a bit of it and see how it burns and how it goes on your tongue. If it passes that, we talk to the grower for a while about their methods and techniques.”
There are also licensed labs that will test marijuana for someone who has a prescription from a doctor, even if it’s “illegal” marijuana bought at a dispensary.