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A new law has been passed in Arizona, which requires cannabis dispensaries in the state to test all cannabis products for unsafe toxins and other unsavory compounds. The law goes into effect towards the end of the year, and until then, Arizona is one of the only medical states which doesn’t officially require this sort of testing.
The law, known as Arizona senate bill 1494, was passed at the end of 2019 and officially goes into effect on November 1, 2020. Besides the new testing laws, there are also a few other new laws rolled into this bill.
So what do all these new laws mean for you, and what’s going to happen? Read along to understand what’s going to change at the cannabis dispensary near you once this law goes into effect.
#1 All Cannabis Products Will Be Tested
Once November rolls around, every cannabis product will have to be put through a series of laboratory tests to make sure they’re free from harmful substances and organisms before they are placed on dispensary shelves.
The law directly states that each product must be tested to: “determine unsafe levels of microbial contamination, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth regulators and residual solvents and confirm the potency of the cannabis to be dispensed.”
So what are these tests? Let’s go down the list:
Microbial testing is one that makes sure there are no harmful tiny organisms like bacteria and mold in the cannabis products. Some of these organisms can cause serious illness if they infest the plant itself or an edible, but especially when inhaled.
Heavy metals are dangerous elements like lead, arsenic, and mercury that can cause severe health conditions if they end up in your body. You might be wondering how such metals can get into your cannabis product, and it’s actually due to the cannabis plant itself. Cannabis is an ‘absorber’ because it likes to collect the metals from the soil and air. If they’re grown in a polluted environment where these metals might be present, then they can end up inside the plant.
Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides of all sorts fall into the same category of chemicals that are used to keep pests off of the cannabis plants. However, these chemicals can be dangerous for your health if they stay on the cannabis plant when you consume it.
Growth regulators are plant hormones that control how the plant functions. They also might be harmful to you if consumed in large amounts. There are emerging studies that suggest that plant hormones might be detrimental for our gut bacteria, which can lead to health problems.
Solvents are chemicals used to extract concentrates. If residual solvents are left in the concentrates in high amounts, then you guessed it, it’s terrible for your health.
Potency is another test that has become necessary, and it’s not just used to show off how strong something is. It’s an important test because it helps people gauge their dosage. If a potency reading is inaccurate, you might be taking way more or less than you want to - and that could be annoying and possibly unsafe.
If that seems like a lot of tests, it’s because it is, but other states like California have an even longer list of required criteria that include things like water content and homogenization. There’s a good chance that by the time the law comes into effect, the Arizona tests could change and reflect other states’ testing laws.
#2 Marijuana Products Will Become Safer
This law is overwhelmingly positive because it protects you, the consumer. Many people aren’t aware of all the dangerous substances that can end up in their marijuana products currently.
This testing law will force cultivators and producers alike to adopt better practices, which in turn, ends up being healthier and safer for anyone who consumes cannabis. Currently, without testing, producers can put potentially dangerous products on the shelves of your favorite dispensary.
Marijuana testing bills are a necessary stepping stone on the path to full legalization. If people have access to guaranteed safe and high-quality cannabis, then that puts trust in the industry.
#3 Things Will Get Pricier
One apparent downside is that after the November deadline, medical marijuana could likely become more expensive. The increased cost is due to farmers and producers having to pay the laboratories to perform these tests. Thankfully, Baked Bros already tests for these contaminants and potency and makes the results available for every batch.
Some other companies already test their cannabis as well, so more than likely; they won’t be affected. However, many companies only test for potency, but now they must also check the list above of harmful substances.
While this increase in price will lead to dismay, the good news is that the prices will most likely come back down. For example in Colorado, at the beginning of legalization, the prices shot up but came down after the industry sorted itself out and became competitive.
#4 There Will Be Better Laboratory Standards
Another part of the bill is that the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) will create standards for third-party laboratories. Third-party labs are those labs that aren’t already associated with Arizona cannabis dispensaries.
Since the state will demand that all marijuana products be tested, they need to add new labs for increased testing. The AZDHS will create a new testing standard, then certify labs if they meet all the requirements.
#5 All Products Will Be Certified
The last part of the new law is that all cannabis products, such as edibles, flower, cartridges, and concentrates must come with a certificate of testing. If it doesn’t, then it needs to be available for you to look at if you request it.
That means for every batch of any cannabis product that’s tested, you as the consumer, are entitled to see the results. The results don’t need to be printed on every container, but you are legally permitted to see the lab results if you need to.
This part of the law isn’t incredibly specific at the moment, unfortunately. In theory, there could be a QR code or other link on every container or a COA (certificate of authenticity) attached to the batch, but the law doesn’t specify the nitty-gritty details.
Let The Testing Begin
Hopefully, by the time the law goes into effect in November of this year, there will be enough labs ready to take on this enormous task. There might be some hiccups, and cannabis products may get more expensive in the short term, but it’s all for the best. Patient safety should be the number one priority, especially in a medical-only state.
Soon you’ll be able to walk into your favorite dispensary, get a package of your favorite edibles or pre-rolls, and have the confidence that everything is trustworthy, potent, and filled with quality medicine.