The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in early March fixed what many consider to be a hole in the state’s regulations by requiring pesticide testing on all cannabis products sold in the state. Effective April 2, 2022, the rules will also allow the LCB to test for heavy metals on a random basis or as part of an investigation, though it will not be required.
“These rules reflect years of hard work and engagement between LCB staff, licensees and labs,” David Postman, chairman of the LCB, said in a press release. “Testing for pesticides and heavy metals adds a deeper layer of confidence for consumers that these products are free of chemical or biological residuals.”
Vicki Christophersen, executive director of the Washington CannaBusiness Association, said her organization has advocated for pesticide testing for nearly four years. While Christophersen applauded the move, she urged regulators to go further.
“The Liquor and Cannabis Board’s action this week is a promising step in focusing policymaking on science and safety,” Christophersen said in an email to Marijuana Venture. “While the work considering mandatory testing for heavy metals continues — the standard in most other legal states — we will be encouraging license-holders to develop their own heavy metals testing protocols.”
The Craft Cannabis Coalition, which represents retailers in the state, also submitted comments in support of changing the testing regime.
“There must be more straightforward regulatory structure that retains product integrity for cannabis retail stores,” executive director Adan Espino said in an email. “Cannabis retail stores simply do not want to rely on an honor system to determine product safety.”
Since the first producer and processor licenses were issued in March 2014, the Washington State Department of Agriculture has developed criteria that determines which pesticides may be used on cannabis. Acceptable pesticides are posted on Washington State University’s Pesticide Information Center Online database. These pesticides are generally mild and considered safe for human consumption. In cases where unapproved pesticides are suspected to have been used in cannabis production, the LCB has a contract with the Department of Agriculture to do ad hoc testing for investigation and enforcement purposes.
Testing for pesticides and heavy metals has been required for medical marijuana products since 2015.