“California edibles producers are not required by law to do ingredient and finished product testing, but many dispensaries require testing,” she adds. “We do ingredient testing and finished product testing to determine microbiological safety and proper potency.”
Auntie Dolores relies on C.W. Analytical, a laboratory in Oakland that is dedicated to cannabis testing. Carella turns to this lab for analysis of raw materials and cannabis oils before they are used, THC potency testing of finished products, and heavy metals and contaminant testing of CBD and pet products.
“California cannabis labs are very busy since California is the biggest marijuana market in the world, holding some 50 percent of the U.S. market,” Carella mentions, noting that there are at least 35 cannabis testing labs in California.
In regards to sensory analysis, Auntie Dolores calls upon patients in its cooperative to handle taste testing of its edibles.
California Dreamin’: Change is Comin’
In the long-standing absence of detailed regulations and guidelines for its legal state medical marijuana industry, some California cities besides San Francisco have been making their own laws to oversee the manufacture of cannabis edibles, Carella says. However, this regulatory hodgepodge is about to change for California edibles manufacturers, as well as the state’s entire cannabis industry.
On Sept. 11, 2015, California passed three key pieces of legislation relative to medical marijuana. As a result, effective in 2016, California will (finally) have a highly scrutinized, fully functional medical cannabis industry, subject to stringent regulation of all components of the chain from plant growers to dispensaries, including edibles manufacturers.
Specifically, Assembly Bill (AB) 266 will establish uniform health and safety standards for medical marijuana, including quality assurance (testing) standards to be enforced by local code enforcement offices. AB 243 regulates cultivation of marijuana plants, including use of pesticides. And Senate Bill 643 creates a new Office of Medical Marijuana Regulation to regulate how cannabis is grown and sold and to set fees and license businesses. Cities and counties will enforce the regulations and can choose to create their own marijuana sales taxes.
“Regulations will be good for us,” Carella says. “We had no regulatory climate before and now we do. Without that, manufacturers are self-regulating, creating public health issues. In comparison, Colorado has strict rules to produce edibles, but California, no. Here anybody can produce edibles in a dirty basement or garage with no enforceable standards. And many companies are less than scrupulous with their product labeling procedures.”
At present only cannabis dispensaries require state licensing in California. “The three bills that were passed in September are addressing this issue and in the future growers and manufacturers will be licensed establishments,” Carella points out.
Rocky Mountain High on Regulations
Under the newest Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division retail marijuana regulations, most notably impacting potency, packaging, and labeling, effective Jan. 30, 2015, edibles sold recreationally must be wrapped individually or demarked in increments of 10 or fewer milligrams of activated THC. Moreover, edibles packaging is obligated to more stringent child-resistant capabilities. And now there must be more explicit warnings and information on labels, including statements such as “This product is unlawful outside the State of Colorado” and “The intoxicating effects of this product may be delayed by two or more hours.”
To help address the issue of protecting children from unintentional ingestion of cannabis, FunkSac, a Denver, Colo.-based packaging solutions provider specializing in odor barrier and child-resistant packaging for the cannabis industry, has recently applied Child-Guard, a child-resistant slider technology from Presto Products Co. (which is owned by a New Zealand investment company and operates five manufacturing facilities in the U.S.) to create a sister product to one of its existing products. The result is FunkGuard, a child-resistant reclosable package.