Michigan Shows Us Why We Need Licensed Cannabis Testers

More than 50 pounds of medical marijuana product were recalled from legal Michigan dispensaries in January. The batches tested above the state limits for insecticides or tested positive for salmonella and E. coli. While this oversight has led to major product loss and potential health risks, little has been done to prevent a similar outcome in the future.

The state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board approved a resolution earlier this month allowing licensed facilities to purchase medical marijuana from caregivers (people licensed to grow cannabis for dispensaries) until the end of March in order to meet demand amid an industry shortage, according to Detroit News. This news comes despite the fact that the majority of the 43 products recalled were caregiver-grown.  

Under the current provision, patients can purchase from the small supply of tested product, or sign a release to by untested, caregiver-supplied marijuana. If choosing the second option, patients have the option to bring their cannabis to a licensed safety compliance facility for proper testing.

Still, this leaves the door open for potentially contaminated product to be sold to patients, posing some serious health risks.

While there is still a continuing debate on how much pesticide is too much, the presence of E. coli and salmonella is of great concern, especially for the immune-compromised - a population likely to consume medical cannabis.

Recreational cannabis became legal in Michigan back in December, but it is expected to be a year before it can legally be sold in the state. The recalls and shortages seen in the medical industry have caused some concern among industry professionals, and have provided fuel for those opposed to recreational cannabis in the state. 

"This is going to turn wild, wild west I think fairly quickly, and there’s going to be a lot of issues," said Scott Greenlee, president of anti-cannabis group Healthy and Productive Michigan.

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The cannabis industry has a packaging problem. In fact, more broadly speaking, it has a sustainability problem. Regulations in legal states, aiming to childproof cannabis products, have had the side effect of creating massive waste, while cultivation can be energy and water intensive.

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