Living the Dream: Danielle Rosellison

Trail Blazin’ Productions is careful to meet all Washington Department of Health standards to have its product medically certified, despite the tremendous risk involved.  Photo by Pat Beggan (www.patbeggan.com).

Danielle Rosellison

Co-owner

Trail Blazin’ Productions

Bellingham, WA

We pulled the trigger. We are now medically certifying ALL harvests at Trail Blazin’ Productions.

To some, this might not seem like that big of a deal. Others may be confused, thinking we were already medical since we’ve been advertising 100% pesticide-free cannabis for years. I’ll explain, but first, a little history.

In the spring of 2015, Senate Bill 5052 changed the medical cannabis laws in Washington. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, having a completely unregulated medical cannabis market running parallel to a highly taxed, highly regulated adult-use market was problematic. Something had to change. The vessel of that change was SB 5052, right, wrong or indifferent.

In July 2016, all the dispensaries in Washington were shut down or raided, and patients were sent to adult-use stores to secure their medications. The problem was that very little medically certified product was available at the adult-use stores and what was there didn’t span the range of medication patients were used to.

A March 2016 survey by The Cannabis Alliance revealed that although 67% of the growers who participated in the survey said they were growing a medical-grade product, only 13% believed the chances were “high” that they would grow medically certified product by July 1, 2016.

Fast forward to 2018, and there is still very, very little medically certified product on the shelves. If all these growers are growing a medical-grade product, why not get it certified?

First, the product needs to be grown in compliance with the state Department of Health’s standards which, in Washington, means testing below the pesticide and heavy metal thresholds. Ironically, adult-use cannabis has exactly the same thresholds, but it’s based on the honor system, while certified medical products must be tested. That’s the only difference as far as the actual product is concerned.

However, the state makes it WAY more difficult than that. First, growers must separate the harvest into three-pound lots and submit three grams per three-pound lot to the lab for heavy metals and pesticides testing. For a harvest at Trail Blazin’, this turns out to be one to three ounces of cannabis (wholesale value of $110 to $330) plus the $400 for testing. Then, the harvest must be separated into five-pound lots, as that is what is required by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, and each lot must be tested for potency at about $100 a test.

As if switching between three-pound lots and five-pound lots weren’t enough, the Department of Health says the entire harvest must be destroyed if you fail a pesticide or heavy metal test for any reason. Let that sink in: Destroy the entire harvest. This adds a HUGE risk to the farmer. What if the farm is downwind from an apple orchard and the 700-plus pesticides that apple farmers are allowed to use (but cannabis growers are not) blow onto our crop? What if we get a false positive from the lab (which, if you’ve been following lab standardization in Washington, you would know is a very real probability)? What if the nutrients we use had undeclared pesticides? The list goes on and on. And you’re telling me if anything goes amiss, we must destroy the entire harvest? I’m not sure if you know this, but there are several options out there to process failed material into passing material. Wouldn’t that be a better use of the product?

There is also no mitigation process in place for contesting failed tests. You failed? You’re done. It gets even better: If you talk to the Liquor and Cannabis Board, they say if you fail a test “you would be permitted to request a retest through the LCB.” So one state agency says you must destroy the harvest, but the other says you can retest it. Which is it? I’m so confused.

Oh wait. There is more. If a cannabis product is medically certified, then at least that’s the only product on which patients save a whopping 8-9% sales tax, right? Nope. Patients registered in the database get to save the 8-9% sales tax on ANY product they purchase. Which is cool for the patients, but why would a grower ever take the risk of possibly destroying their entire harvest if patients can buy any adult-use products, which theoretically must meet the same standards, and still save the sales tax?

And finally, have you seen the medically certified logo? It doesn’t say “medical” anywhere on it! It says, “Chapter 246-70 Compliant.” You must be kidding me! Most of the public has no idea what the logo means, and half the budtenders think they can only sell medical product to medical patients. For the love of …

You can see why it took Trail Blazin’ a while to medically certify its product, can’t you? The risk versus reward just wasn’t there. In the end, though, we are living in an environment where a significant number of farms are claiming that their product is pesticide free or medical grade, but practically none are backing up those claims. Trail Blazin’ is ready to take the risk, to put our money where our mouth is, and be a step ahead of everyone else.

We have sent in four harvests to be medically certified and they all passed with flying colors, showing undetectable amounts of pesticides every time.

Your move, Universe. We will be a step ahead, blazin’ trails, all day long.

 

*100% pesticide free means we do not apply any man-made pesticides to our products. We use clean practices and beneficial insects to mitigate pests.

 

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