Tags Posts tagged with "Regulations"

Regulations

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This past Friday, the Bureau of Marijuana Control, the regulatory body overseeing California’s cannabis industry, released a set of proposed regulations for the lab testing market. The regulations are somewhat comprehensive, covering sampling, licensing, pesticide testing, microbiological contaminants, residual solvents, water activity and much more.

Formerly named the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation under the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs, the Bureau of Marijuana Control is tasked with overseeing the development, implementation, and enforcement of the regulations for the state’s cannabis industry. In their statement of reasons for the lab testing regulations, the bureau says they are designed with public health and safety at top of mind. At first glance, much of these laboratory rules seem loosely modeled off of Colorado and Oregon’s already implemented testing regulations.

The regulations lay out requirements for testing cannabis products prior to bringing them to market. That includes testing for residual solvents and processing chemicals, microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, foreign materials, heavy metals, pesticides, homogeneity as well as potency in quantifying cannabinoids.

The microbiological impurities section lays out some testing requirements designed to prevent food-borne illness. Labs are required to test for E. coli, Salmonella and multiple species of the pathogenic Aspergillus. If a lab detects any of those contaminants, that batch of cannabis or cannabis products would then fail the test and could not be sold to consumers. A lab must report all of that information on a certificate of analysis, according to the text of the regulations.

The proposed regulations stipulate requirements for sampling, including requiring labs to develop sampling plans with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and requiring a lab-approved sampler to follow chain-of-custody protocols. The rules also propose requiring SOPs for analytical methodology. That includes some method development parameters like the list of analytes and applicable matrices. It also says all testing methods need to be validated and labs need to incorporate guidelines from the FDA’s Bacterial Analytical Manual, the U.S. Pharmacopeia and AOAC’s Official Methods of Analysis for Contaminant Testing, or other scientifically valid testing methodology.

Labs will be required to be ISO 17025-accredited in order to perform routine cannabis testing. Laboratories also need to participate in proficiency testing (PT) program “provided by an ISO 17043 accredited proficiency test provider.” If a laboratory fails to participate in the PT program or fails to pass to receive a passing grade, that lab may be subject to disciplinary action against the lab’s license. Labs need to have corrective action plans in place if they fail to get a passing grade for any portion of the PT program.

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Two years ago voters in Oregon voted to legalize recreational marijuana statewide. The communities opted out of the agreement but this month reconsidered and approve of some type of marijuana business, including medical. The communities must now establish rules for the production and distribution of cannabis. Local officials are left with many decisions on: whether businesses should be allowed near parks,what odor control measures must enforced, operating hours for retailers, and necessary security precautions.

Scott Winkels, a lobbyist with the League of Oregon Cities said, “No one has done this in Oregon since liquor Prohibition…This is the first time we’ve had to step in and develop and regulate a marketplace for a controlled substance since 1933.”

Regulations have taken place in all states that have approved cannabis—even Colorado where cannabis was legalized in 2012—rules are still being adjusted accordingly. Denver became the first U.S. city to allow people to use marijuana in bars and restaurants this month although state officials announced a rule that prohibits businesses with liquor licenses to allow pot consumption on their premise. In California, which approved pot last week, the San Jose City Council imposed a temporary ban – including on outdoor gardens – to give officials time to develop regulations for sales and farming.

The League of Oregon Cities has written a guide to help local officials: Cities may impose restrictions on the hours of operation and the locations of producers, processors, wholesalers, as well as retailers and medical marijuana grow sites, processing sites and dispensaries. They may also regulate public access and how the businesses operate.

One ballot measure that passed last week imposed a 3 percent local sales tax on cannabis products, on top of a 17 percent state sales tax, said Rob Bovett, legal counsel of Association of Oregon Counties. Counties and cities that decided to prohibit cannabis businesses still hedged their bets by approving the additional tax incase voters said yes to pot, a smart move as they will now be able to enforce it.

“All (of Oregon’s) 111 cities and counties voted yes on the local tax,” Bovett said.

If the jurisdictions want to reap the tax benefits at the earliest opportunity, they should have the regulations finalized before the opt-in ballot measures go into effect in January so marijuana companies can seek licenses and start doing business, liquor commission spokesman Mark Pettinger said.

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Strict rules and government intervention ins states that have already legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes are typically restricting the industry. As a result, the black market is still selling marijuana and thriving; this was not the intention that lawmakers had. By putting a ton of rules in the cannabis industry, in addition to large taxes and stress upon both cultivators and retail outlets, governments seem to be attempting to please cannabis opponents by being vague and at the same time making things more difficult.

As a result, these strenuous regulations on the profitable legal cannabis industry are allowing illegal drug dealer to continue doing what they do best – sell marijuana on the black market. In Washington State, the Liquor and Cannabis Board recently stated that the marijuana market demographics showed that illegal cannabis sales, at twenty-eight percent, are very close to legal recreational sales, at thirty-five percent, and legal medical marijuana sales, at thirty-seven percent. Also, people believe that a number of sales on the black market are extremely underestimated.

Evidently, people are ready to risk incarceration by buying and selling products on the black market to avoid regulations imposed by the state, including who can consume as well as taxes. On the bright side, Washington lawmakers revealed that they are supporting a “pathway for legal marijuana delivery.” In fact, Washington Senator Christopher Hurst added that he wanted to lower taxes on cannabis sales from thirty-seven percent to twenty-five percent.

“The criminals love the tax rate being high, because they don’t pay it, and it makes it so the legal people can’t compete with them,” Hurst said to Reason.com, which highlighted that the proposal stopped passing at the House Finance Committee; states are having issues with taxes that are leaving both providers and consumers discouraged.

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