Quality Plans for Lab Services: Managing Risks as a Grower, Processor or Dispensary, Part 3

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s opinions based on his experience working in the laboratory industry. This is an opinion piece in a series of articles designed to highlight the potential problems that clients may run into with labs. 


In the last two articles, I discussed the laboratory’s first line of defense (e.g. certification or accreditation) paperwork wall used if a grower, processor or dispensary (user/client) questioned a laboratory result and the conflicts of interest that exist in laboratory culture. Now I will discuss the second line of defense that a laboratory will present to the user in the paperwork wall: Quality Control (QC) results.

Do not be discouraged by the analytical jargon of the next few articles. I suggest that you go immediately to the conclusions to get the meat of this article and then read the rest of it to set you on the path to see the forest for the trees.

QC in a laboratory consists of a series of samples run by the laboratory to determine the accuracy and precision of a specific batch of samples. So, to start off, let’s look at the definitions of accuracy and precision.QC Charts can provide a detailed overview of laboratory performance in a well-run laboratory.

According to the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater:

Accuracy: estimate of how close a measured value is to the true value; includes …

Will France’s Post-World Cup Economic Boon Come from Hemp?

Since 1970, the winners of the World Cup have seen economic growth after their country’s victory. France’s boon could include CBD, if the government would allow it.

France, who defeated Croatia in the championship match on July 15, was the third-largest producer of hemp in the world in 2017 with 40,000 acres in cultivation, just after Canada (138,000 acres) and China (116,000 acres). In the US, acreage reached 25,000, doubling 2016’s output.

Industrial hemp is grown in France for its seeds and fibrous stems. Only a few strains of the plant, listed in article R.5132.86 of France’s Public Health Code for cannabis, are allowed for cultivation provided they contain less than 0.2% THC.

“France produces the lion’s share of Europe’s pulp and paper,” according to zenpype.com. “It’s the most important hemp market in the EU, accounting for over 50% of fiber applications. French hemp cultivars are suited for grain and fiber production, the specific varieties that industry trends demand.”

Food Safety: Do You Know What Is In Your Water?

Water is essential for life and it is an important part of agriculture and food manufacturing. Water has many uses in the cannabis industry. Among the most common uses are irrigation, ingredient/product processing and cleaning processes.

Water can be the carrier of pathogenic microorganisms and chemicals that can be transferred to food through agriculture and manufacturing practices. Poor quality water may have a negative impact in food processing and potentially on public health. Therefore, development and implementation of risk management plans that ensure the safety of water through the controls of hazardous constituents is essential to maintain the safety of agricultural and manufactured food or cannabis products.

Chemicals can enter the water stream through several sources such as storm water, direct discharge into fields and city water treatment plans.Although there no current regulations regarding the water used in cannabis cultivation and processing, it is highly recommended that the industry uses potable water as standard practice. Potable water is water that is safe for drinking and therefore for use in agriculture and food manufacturing. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the standards for water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA.)The regulations include the mandatory levels defined as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for each contaminant that can be found in water. Federal Drinking Water Standards are organized into six groups: Microorganisms, Disinfectants, Disinfection Byproducts, Inorganic Chemicals, Organic Chemicals and Radionuclides. The agriculture and food manufacturing …

House Rules Committee Blocks FY19 Marijuana Amendments

Late Monday night, the House Rules Committee led by prohibitionist Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked two amendments related to marijuana from receiving consideration by the full House, thus ending their consideration and silencing the ability for the lower chamber to offer protections from Attorney General Jeff Sessions when it comes to cannabis.

The amendments included allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales program, originally passed by voters in 2014, and protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.

In a release sent out earlier today containing the testimony by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the Congresswoman stated:

My first amendment, cosponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher, Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer, strikes the rider that prohibits D.C. from spending its local funds to commercialize recreational marijuana.  Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana, and eight of those states have approved commercialization.

In February 2015, D.C. legalized the possession of marijuana for recreational use, after two independent studies found dramatic racial disparities in marijuana arrests in D.C.  A rider to block recreational use failed due to faulty drafting, and possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for recreational use is legal in D.C., but Congress has prohibited D.C. from spending its local funds to tax and regulate recreational marijuana.  This rider has unintentionally benefited violent drug gangs.  For that reason, some refer to it as the “Drug Dealer Protection Act.”  As one marijuana dealer told the Washington Post,

Kentucky NORML: Seniors and Cannabis

There are approximately 700,000 senior citizens in our state. The Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville found people age 65 have grown 23 percent since the 2010 census, while the number of people younger than 65 has declined and they account for over 15 percent of our population and growing.

In the past few years researchers have been looking into how cannabis therapy is both safe and effective among elderly patients diagnosed with chronic pain, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, “[a]fter six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain levelwas reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4.”

Investigators with the Alcohol Research Group assessed trends in marijuana use between the years 1984 and 2015. Authors reported that, compared with older Americans 30 years ago, older respondents today are some 20 times more likely to acknowledge using cannabis. This suggests the stigma of cannabis from drug war propaganda has been eroded and education is reaching seniors.

“We found that rates of use among older groups increased quite significantly since the 1980s, especially for men in their fifties and sixties,” the study’s lead author stated in a press release. Their finding is consistent with those of other studies reporting upticks in cannabis use by seniors.

Separate data presented this …

Task Force Recommends Regulating Recreational Cannabis in New York

Bordered by several states (Massachusetts, Vermont) and one country (Canada) that have legalized marijuana, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in January, requested that a task force look into doing the same in the Empire State. That task force, under the auspices of the state’s Department of Health, issued its report on July 13. The findings are stunning:

“The positive effects of a regulated marijuana market in New York State outweigh the potential negative impacts.”

• “Areas that may be a cause for concern can be mitigated with regulation and proper use of public education that is tailored to address key populations. Incorporating proper metrics and indicators will ensure rigorous and ongoing evaluation.”

• “Numerous New York State agencies and subject matter experts in the fields of public health, mental health, substance use, public safety, transportation and economics worked in developing this assessment.”

“No insurmountable obstacles to regulation of marijuana were raised.”

• “Regulation of marijuana benefits public health by enabling government oversight of the production, testing, labeling, distribution, and sale of marijuana. The creation of a regulated marijuana program would enable New York State to better control licensing, ensure quality control and consumer protection, and set age and quantity restrictions.”

Weekly Legislative Roundup 7/13/18

Welcome to the latest edition of NORML’s Weekly Legislative Roundup!

A lot has happened at the state level this week, starting with Maine lawmakers overriding Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) veto of medical cannabis expansion legislation, by a vote of 119 to 23 in the House and 25 to 8 in the Senate. The measure will now become law later this fall.

North Dakota activists submitted what they believe are enough signatures (nearly 19,000!) to qualify a marijuana legalization measure for the November ballot. State officials must certify 13,452 signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 ballot and are anticipated to take an estimated 35 days to verify proponents’ signatures.

Directors at the Oklahoma Department of Health voted 5 to 4 to severely limit patients’ access to a wide range of cannabis products. Specifically, the new provisions: prohibit the sale of smokable herbal  cannabis at licensed dispensaries; require dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist on staff; impose arbitrary THC potency thresholds on various cannabis-infused products; and mandate that dispensary managers obtain at least four hours of continuing education training each calendar year. Qualified patients will still be permitted to grow their own medical marijuana flowers.

Oklahoma lawmakers formed a bipartisan working group to focus on seeing that medical cannabis is implemented in a way that “conforms to the will of the voters.” House Democrats are calling for a special legislative session to address the issue.

Hawaii Gov. David …

New York: State-Commissioned Study Calls For Legalizing Adult Marijuana Use

Legalize MarijuanaA state-commissioned study released today by the New York Department of Health recommends replacing cannabis criminalization with a policy of adult use legalization.

The 74-page study, entitled “Assessment of the Potential Impact of Regulated Marijuana in New York State,” acknowledges the following:

“Regulating marijuana can reduce opioid use;”

“Regulating marijuana may lead to a reduction in the use of synthetic cannabinoids;”

“Legalizing marijuana will reduce disproportionate criminalization and incarceration of racial and ethnic minority communities;”

“Regulating marijuana will create jobs;”

“Marijuana regulation could generate long-term cost savings.”

The study’s authors conclude: “A regulated marijuana program enjoys broad support and would have significant health, social justice, and economic benefits. … Regulating marijuana enables public health officials to minimize the potential risks of marijuana use through outreach, education, quantity limits at point of sale, quality control, and consumer protection.”

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The Department of Health ought to be praised for taking a sober look at the available evidence and issuing sensible policy recommendations. Criminalizing adults who use cannabis is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern — but it should not be a criminal justice matter.”

He added: “Despite nearly a century of criminal prohibition, marijuana is here to stay. Our laws should reflect this reality, not deny it, and lawmakers should govern and regulate the marijuana market accordingly.”

The full text of the

German Authorities Will Issue New Cannabis Cultivation Bid

According to Kermit the Frog, it’s never easy being green. It is also tough to be “first” in the cannabis biz. Anywhere.

One of the most remarkable features of the first years of state-level legalization in the U.S. was the sheer number of mistakes by the authorities in issuing licenses and bids for state-sanctioned cultivation and dispensation once the voters had forced legalization. There were several state-level “redos” and lots of legal mumbo jumbo thrown around as the green-rush kicked off at the state level.The real news? There is going to be a completely new one.

Fast-forward a couple of years and it is clear this is not just an issue of the confused state of legalization in the U.S.

Canada too, on a federal recreational level, has moved forward in fits and starts. And even though a fall start date to the market has now been enshrined into law, the continued moving target of the same has been a topic of fraught conversations and bargaining ever since the country decided to move ahead with full Monty recreational.

Across the pond, things are not going smoothly on the cannabis front. In the first week of July, the much stalled medical cultivation bid in Germany finally came to a limpid end. It remains to see if there will be any legal “bangs” as it whimpers away.

The real news? There is going to be a completely new one.

A Do-Over

2018 Congressional Letter Writing Campaign

In advance of NORML’s 2018 Conference and Lobby day that’s taking place July 22nd – 24th in Washington, DC, NORML chapters from around the country will be contacting their representatives to urge their support for marijuana-related bills introduced since the 115th Congress convened on January 3, 2017. For more than four decades, NORML Affiliates and Chapters have demonstrated their ability to mobilize thousands of marijuana advocates from around the country so we hope to create some additional excitement around pending marijuana law reform legislation, and in return, drive participation and engagement.

We hope all of you will join us in making this a successful campaign!

Project: NORML 2018 Congressional Letter Writing Campaign

Who: NORML Chapters and Affiliates

When: Thursday, July 12, 2018 through Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summary: Grassroots letter writing campaign targeting members of the House and Senate requesting their immediate support of pending marijuana-related legislation. We encourage the use of handwritten letters and emails.

Target Legislation:

S.1689 / H.R. 4815: The Marijuana Justice Act

H.R. 1820: The Veterans Equal Access Act

Why Letters?

Legislators often tell us that the most effective method of communicating our position on issues is through letters. Letters can be mailed or easily faxed. Phone calls are necessary and helpful, but letters from constituents make the most difference. E-mails are also a great tool, but sometimes it may be difficult to verify that the sender is a constituent. Also, they normally will respond back …

Oklahoma: Governor Signs Restrictive Amendments To State’s Voter-Initiated Marijuana Law

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin yesterday signed into law emergency regulations amending SQ 788 — the state’s voter-initiated medical marijuana access law.

The changes, approved Tuesday in a 5 to 4 vote by directors at the Department of Health, seek to severely limit patients’ access to a wide range of cannabis products. Specifically, the new provisions: prohibit the sale of herbal cannabis at licensed dispensaries; require dispensaries to have a licensed pharmacist on staff; impose arbitrary THC potency thresholds on various cannabis-infused products; and mandate that dispensary managers obtain at least four hours of continuing education training each calendar year. Qualified patients will still be permitted to grow their own medical marijuana flowers.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association, which opposed the passage of SQ 788, lobbied for many of the amendments. Governor Fallin also was a vocal critic of the initiative campaign.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano criticized the changes. “Government officials are not acting in good faith. Not only are they undermining the will of the voters, but they are violating the spirit of the law in a manner that will be detrimental to the very patients this measure was intended to protect.”

Initiative proponents are considering pursuing legal actions. Activists are also in the process of gathering signatures to place a broader, adult use legalization measure on the 2018 ballot.

NORML has long argued that patients should not be limited solely to non-inhaled forms of cannabis because …

NORML Questions Police Tactics That Led to Man’s Death Over Small Marijuana Grow

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) questions the excessive use of force used by Pennsylvania law enforcement, whose pursuit of a man suspected of growing a small amount of marijuana outdoors ultimately led to his death.

The body of a suspect in the case, Pennsylvania resident Gregory A. Longenecker, was found earlier this week under a bulldozer operated by a Pennsylvania Game Commission worker. The bulldozer was carrying a Pennsylvania state trooper in pursuit of Mr. Longenecker, who was suspected to have been cultivating ten marijuana plants in Penn Township, PA. A police helicopter was also used in the search.

NORML questions law enforcements’ decision to pursue the suspect in such an extreme manner, especially over such a minor offense..  “As a former prosecutor and practicing criminal defense attorney, it is inconceivable to me that a man lost his life during an investigation of a very small grow,” said Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director of Pittsburgh NORML. “Had he been arrested, prosecuted and convicted Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines would have provided for a sentence of probation. The heavy-handed tactics employed cannot be justified by the seizure of ten plants. I do not understand why law enforcement couldn’t simply wait. A vehicle was on scene and another individual was taken into custody. Rip the plants, run the plate and ask the arrestee what his friend’s name is. How difficult is that?”

“This awful event could have and should have …

Study: Medical Cannabis Access Associated With Significant Reduction In Prescription Opioid Use

The enactment of medical cannabis access laws is associated with significant reductions in prescription opioid use among Medicaid enrollees, according to just-published data in the journal Addiction.

Investigators with the University of California at San Diego assessed the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and opioid use among Medicaid enrollees over a period of 21 years (1993 to 2014).

Authors reported, “For Schedule III opioid prescriptions, medical cannabis legalization was associated with a 29.6 percent reduction in number of prescriptions, 29.9 percent reduction in dosage, and 28.8 percent reduction in related Medicaid spending.” This correlation remained after authors controlled for potential confounders, such as the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs and variations in patients’ income. By contrast, authors did not report similar changes in enrollees’ use of Schedule II opioid drugs, like Oxycodone.

They concluded: “Statewide medical cannabis legalization appears to have been associated with reductions in both prescriptions and dosages of Schedule III (but not Schedule II) opioids received by Medicaid enrollees in the US. … It was estimated that, if all the states had legalized medical cannabis by 2014, Medicaid annual spending on opioid prescriptions would be reduced by 17.8 million dollars.”

Their findings are similar to those of numerous other observational studies – such as those here, here, and here – finding that medical marijuana regulation is correlated with reductions in overall opioid-related use, drug spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Separate data evaluating prescription …

Rhode Island: Governor Signs Marijuana Expungement Legislation Into Law

Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation permitting those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged.

House Bill 8355/S. 2447 allows those with past convictions for crimes involving the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis to petition the court to seek an order of expungement. It states, “[W]here the court has determined that all conditions of the original criminal sentence have been completed, … the court [will] order the expungement without cost to the petitioner.” The law took effect upon passage.

State lawmakers decriminalzed minor marijuana possession offenses in 2013.

“If an act has been decriminalized since a person was charged and paid their price for it, that person shouldn’t have to keep paying the price in the form of being denied jobs and other opportunities because of their criminal record,” bill sponsor Sen. Harold Metts said in a statement. “Let them move on, and they can better support themselves and their families and contribute to our communities and our state.”

Delaware lawmakers passed similar legislation this month permitting the expungement of marijuana-related offenses that have since been decriminalized. That bill is awaiting action from the Governor. Maryland enacted a similar law in 2017.

Both Massachusetts and Oregon have enacted legislation vacating the convictions of marijuana-related crimes that are now defined as legal under state law. In California, where voters elected to legalize the adult use of marijuana in 2016, District Attorneys in various …

ASA Activist Newsletter – July 2018

In the July 2018 Issue:

  • FDA Approves First Medicine Derived from Cannabis
  • World Health Organization Takes First Steps to Reschedule Cannabis
  • New Bipartisan Congressional Bill to Respect State Cannabis Laws
  • Oklahoma Voters Pass Robust Medical Cannabis Initiative
  • Activist Profile: Christy and Mark Zartler, ASA 2018 Courage Award
  • ACTION ALERT: Urge Congress to Pass the STATES Act

Source: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_activist_newsletter_july_2018…

At High Sobriety, Addicts Kick Opioids and Alcohol with Cannabis

With medical and, increasingly, recreational marijuana available in more than 30 states, the healing herb’s qualities have now spread to the field of addiction recovery, helping opioid users ease their way through the debilitating effects—nausea, stomach cramps, muscle spasms, irritability, insomnia and anxiety—of withdrawal.

High Sobriety, a 24-bed in-patient facility in Culver City, Calif., provides cannabis as both a reward and way to kick the physical cravings that come from opioids and alcohol and charges upwards of $40,000 for a month-long stay. Founded last year by three former colleagues at Malibu, Calif.’s famous Promises rehab facility—the recently departed Joe Schrank, Cassidy Cousins and Michael Welch—High Sobriety is now being run by Dr. Sherry Yafai, a trained emergency medicine physician who practiced at the Releaf Institute before starting her own practice.

“I’d been working in the emergency department for over a decade in Los Angeles and had grown frustrated watching kids overdose time and time again,” Dr. Yafai tells Freedom Leaf. “There had to be a better way to help patients achieve and maintain their sobriety. Last year, I opened my own cannabis-based office for pain management last year. I found that I could reduce their narcotic load dramatically while at the same time improve their pain management with cannabis alone.

Dr. Yafai

“It was around that time that I spoke with Joe Schrank from High Sobriety,” she continues. “It was speaking with Joe that changed my perspective …

Maine: Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto, Expand Medical Marijuana Access

Legislation to significantly expand patients’ access to medical cannabis will become law later this fall following a decision today by Maine lawmakers to override the Governor’s veto.

By a vote of 119 to 23 in the House and 25 to 8 in the Senate, lawmakers rejected Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1539. The bill will become law 90 days after the conclusion of the 2018 legislative session.

Under the new law, physicians will possess the discretion to recommend cannabis for any patient for whom they believe it will benefit. It also expands the total number of licensed medical dispensaries from eight to 14, earmarks funding for medical marijuana research, permits caregivers to oversee multiple patients, and licenses marijuana extraction facilities, among other changes.

An estimated 42,000 patients are currently certified with the state to use medical marijuana.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has a long history of opposing virtually all marijuana law reform legislation, and has previously vetoed numerous bills seeking to liberalize the state’s cannabis policies.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/09/maine-lawmakers-override-governors-veto-expand-medical-marijuana-access/…

North Dakota: Advocates Turn In Signatures For 2018 Adult Use Initiative

Legalize marijuanaProponents of a statewide ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of marijuana in North Dakota turned in nearly 19,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office today in an effort to place the measure before voters this November. State officials must certify 13,452 signatures in order to qualify the measure for the 2018 electoral ballot.

The voter-initiated measure, organized by the grass-roots group Legalize North Dakota, legalizes the possession, use, and sale of cannabis, as well as the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, by those over the age of 21 and also expunges past marijuana convictions.

In 2016, nearly two-thirds of state voters approved a ballot measure regulating medical cannabis access. However, state officials have yet to make the program operational — with regulators now aiming to have licensed dispensaries up and running by June 2019. Regulators’ failure to swiftly implement the 2016 measure was the impetus for the 2018 campaign, activists have acknowledged.

State officials are anticipated to take an estimated 35 days to verify proponents’ signatures. According to internal polling data commissioned by the Legalize North Dakota campaign, a plurality of voters back the measure.

Voters in Michigan will also be deciding this November on whether to legalize the adult use of marijuana, while voters in Utah and Missouri will be deciding on medical access measures.

Source: http://blog.norml.org/2018/07/09/north-dakota-advocates-turn-in-signatures-for-2018-adult-use-initiative/…

Queer in Cannabis: Inclusion Is the Solution

As a queer woman from New York who’s been involved in the cannabis industry for more than three years, I’ve met dozens of LGBTQ people, ranging from millennials to baby-boomers and activists to executives. As a new industry, cannabis benefits from growing in a time where there’s more awareness of the value of diversity.

“The medical part of this industry has deep roots [in the AIDS crisis] that has been forgotten about over the decades,” says Josh Drayton, Communications and Outreach Director for the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA). Drayton, who started his cannabis career in Humboldt County more than a decade ago as an out gay man, helped launch CCIA’s Diversity and Inclusion program, which focuses on mentorship for underrepresented communities. He’s also worked on the launch of Sprout, an LGBT-inclusive space for the Bay Area cannabis industry.

“I started to get concerned about the lack of LGBT representation when I went to some of the Cannabis Cups,” Drayton explains, “because of the extreme white male presence and advertising geared toward heterosexual men.”

While many legal-cannabis companies have begun to focus on advertising that appeals across genders, the key to change is diverse leadership and a willingness to call out bad behavior.