California is Hiding Microbiological Contaminants in Cannabis
By Stephan Dweck
California’s cash crop is being closely monitored by the Marijuana Control Bureau. They recently released lab testing regulations. They cover a wide array of topics including pesticide testing, licensing, cover sampling, water activity, residual solvents, and microbiological contaminants.
They're now taking charge of the implementation, enforcement of state regulations, and development of the state’s marijuana industry. They claim that safety and public health are at the top of the list, however, in their statement of reasons, it looks a lot like smoke and mirrors. The evidence reveals that California has some disturbing secrets.
The regulations clearly state that there are strict guidelines for testing marijuana products before they’re able to sell them in an open market. The testing includes mycotoxins, processing chemicals, residual solvents, heavy metals, homogeneity, microbiological contaminants, foreign materials, and the potency of cannabinoids.
Some of the testing requirements with microbiological impurities are there to protect against foodborne illness. The labs are obligated to test for samples of Salmonella, pathogenic Aspergillus, and E-coli. All of the information with a certificate of analysis is supposed to protect the consumer and if any of the contaminants are found they’re supposed to not pass the test. Any and all labs performing test are required by state law to include their results with a certificate of the analysis, by the text of regulations.
The regulations also require guidelines for sampling which requires labs to generate sampling plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) which include a lab certified sampler to engage in protocols within the chain of custody. The rules also state that SOPs are needed for any analytical methodology. Which includes parameters of applicable matrices and analyses. Testing methods also need to be authenticated and the labs should incorporate the guidelines with the AOAC and Pharmacopeia’s official methods of testing, the FDA’s Bacterial Analytical Manual, or other valid scientific testing methodology. In order to do routine cannabis testing, all labs will need to be ISO 17025 accredited.
There's also a (PT) program “supplied with an ISO 17043 certified proficiency test provider". Any lab that fails to receive a passing grade or doesn't participate in the PT could be looking at the disciplinary action with their lab license. The question that remains is, why doesn't California Labs have a plan in place if they fail the passing grade for any part of the PT test and better yet, why are they still allowed to operate? Marijuana consumers in California have a right to know if microbiological contaminants are in the products they’re using.