In January 2014, Colorado will embark on the brave new world of legal recreational cannabis. In preparation for this transition, the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is holding a series of working groups to establish new regulations for the substance. In addition to establishing standards for mold and potency, the Division will also regulate pesticides and harmful chemicals in Colorado marijuana.
The issue of testing for and regulating potency should come as no surprise to Coloradans. When Amendment 64 passed, it was under the premise of regulating cannabis like alcohol. Beer, wine, and spirits all bear labels clearly indicating the percentage of ethyl alcohol they contain. The problem is that the potency of Colorado marijuana can be much trickier to tie down.
“[Potency] can vary depending on the strain or variety of the plant, the way in which the plant is grown, the part of the plant that is used, and the way the plant is prepared for use and stored,” states a fact sheet prepared by the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
"Setting potency standards raises several questions, including what types of potency tests to require, what sort of labeling to require, how to set testing calibrations, how to certify testing facilities, and how to properly gather testing samples," reports Food Safety News.
According to companies currently producing Colorado marijuana and infused products, potency-testing has yet to become an exact science. Complications in finding a state certified lab to conduct the testing don't make it any easier.
“Currently, testing is really more about marketing than it is about actual science,” Jessica LeRoux, owner of Twirling Hippy Confections, told Food Safety News.
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