States Struggle to Test For Tainted Marijuana

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People don’t just smoke marijuana. They vaporize it, bake it into brownies, use it in eye drops, and rub extracts of it onto their skin. In states that have legalized pot, regulators have struggled to make sure the bewildering array of products on dispensary shelves are safe to consume, Stateline reports. States where the drug has been legally sold for several years such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington are still trying to figure out standards and laboratory testing rules for potential toxins such as pesticides, solvents and mold. “The big challenge with this industry is the speed at which it innovates and evolves,” said Danica Lee, Denver’s director of public health inspections. “It continues to be a bit of an adventure.”

The link between illness and tainted marijuana isn’t well established. Anecdotes have emerged of vulnerable consumers, such as cancer patients, contracting dangerous infections after smoking bad weed. States and cities are trying to head off a health crisis before it can happen. They’re balancing public safety concerns against some marijuana growers’ and manufacturers’ reluctance to pay for testing that’s expensive and not proved to improve safety, and some laboratories’ eagerness to run additional tests. State regulators have had no guidance from the federal agencies that usually set health and safety standards for agriculture, food and medicine because the federal government considers marijuana to be illegal. They have been hampered by the fact that there’s little research on how marijuana tainted with potential toxins affects humans, partly because the federal government funds limited marijuana research.

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