New state testing requirements slowing down Oregon's marijuana i - KPTV - FOX 12

New state testing requirements slowing down Oregon's marijuana industry

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After roaring out of the gate, Oregon's burgeoning marijuana industry has felt a slowdown recently, after the state imposed stricter product testing standards in October.

Starting October 1, only testing labs certified by the state are allowed to test marijuana products, under very specific guidelines that determine whether a product passes or fails.

Jeremy Sackett, who owns Cascadia Labs in Tigard, said the state's requirements for pesticide residues have been especially problematic, especially in the case of extracts, which have the highest failure rate of the products his lab tests.

"Previous to October 1, a laboratory could choose what pesticides they were testing for. After October 1, there was a solid list that every laboratory needed to test for," said Sackett.

Compounding the issue, Sackett said, only labs certified by the state are allowed to test products, and his is one of only three labs certified to test for pesticides, which has resulted in a backlog.

"Where I used to wait 72 hours for a lab result, now it could take a month. So we've got a big bottleneck," said Matt Walstatter, who owns Pure Green in northeast Portland.

That, in addition, to the high failure rate for extracts has resulted in a supply shortage, and a decrease in sales, Walstatter said.

While Walstatter has managed to keep his shelves stocked, other retailers and producers have had to slow down operations or even temporarily shut down.

"Right now we're in almost a state of emergency in this industry. Businesses are failing, employees are getting laid off," said Walstatter.

In December, the state responded to the industry's concerns by rolling back some of the regulations, but problems persist.

Sackett, for one, thinks some of the state's testing requirements, particularly those dealing with pesticides, need to be adjusted.

"There are requirements currently in place that are not in line with other industries of agriculture as well as food and beverage manufacturing," said Sackett.

Sackett said this is particularly evident when it comes to testing extracts, where pesticide levels that would pass in a marijuana plant are magnified because the product is concentrated.

"The rules don't really account for the realities of operating in our industry," said Walstatter.

Walstatter said he plans to spend the coming months lobbying state regulators to consider changes to the testing requirements.

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