ASHLAND, Ore. – Not a single gram of marijuana has been sold yet from a state-licensed dispensary in Southern Oregon. But already advocates are expressing concern.
“The reality is that there is not any formalized structure for testing right now,” said Mike Welch, owner of Puff’s Smoke Shop in Ashland.
Under the new state law, marijuana must be tested for three measures of potency, along with mold and pesticide contamination.
But members of the Rules Advisory Committee say the law that allows for dispensaries doesn’t give them oversight over the labs that those dispensaries go to for testing.
Welch says, as a result, he has found mold in product in his store that had passed testing at the lab.
“We took it off the shelf and called the grower and said, ‘hey, you’ve got a problem,’” said Welch.
Meanwhile the testing facilities themselves are echoing that push for more oversight.
Green Leaf Lab in Portland says results are subjective relative to the conditions in which the sample was sent, the conditions of the machinery, and the experience of the tester.
They say the lack of regulation puts pressure on them to explain to dispensaries why they should be trusted.
“There’s oversight for all laboratories in Oregon – water laboratories, soil laboratories,” said Rowshan Reordan, Managing Partner at Grean Leaf. ‘State oversight just seems inevitable and it should be required.”
Despite their concerns, many owners like Welch favor regulated testing for marijuana. But Welch says spending $850 a week on that testing makes no sense if the results aren’t guaranteed and the numbers can easily be fudged.
And while he says good dispensary owners can keep consumers safe for now, there isn’t enough protection to keep bad apples from taking advantage of patients.
“We have a vested interest in getting our customers coming back, so we work really hard on doing that,” said Welch. “Not everyone is going to be that way. There’s always going to be that person who’s looking to make that money now.”