Lawmakers, patients push to subject medical marijuana to lab scrutiny

Labs find black mold in recreational pot flowers

DENVER - State lawmakers are considering mandatory testing requirements for medical marijuana, something patients have wanted for years, but there are some concerns from the pot industry.

"Cannabis is the best thing I've ever tried for it, it works," said founder of the Cannabis Patients Alliance, Terri Robnett.

Robnett suffers from Fibromyalgia. A medical marijuana user herself, she advocates for patients across the state.

"The recreational market has their products tested so patients feel they should have access to the same information for their medicine," she further explained.

Robnett said medical users don't just want, they need their pot products tested. Especially for patients with weak immune systems.

"If they're smoking or vaporizing it and it has mold in it then their taking that into their lungs, there can be real consequences for that," she said.

7NEWS obtained photos from a state certified lab that asked not to be identified. It shows different kinds of mold, including black mold, growing on several different recreational pot flowers.

The lab takes a sample from the flower, enriches it with a solution, and then incubates the plates for seven days to determine whether or not there is mold growth.

Currently recreational pot is only required to be tested for potency and homogeneity at one of 15 state certified testing facilities.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division said it expects to roll out testing for mold, pesticides and other contaminants this year.

Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, is among a handful of state lawmakers now working to create similar requirements for medical pot.

"I mean you pick up a loaf of bread and you see mold you're not gonna use it," said Singer.

Lawmakers are looking at the state's medical marijuana market as a whole because the original regulations were passed with a five year sunset provision in 2010. The rules currently in place will expire if legislators don't act this year.

"I would love to see our Marijuana Enforcement Division step up to the plate and be able to do this without us doing it through new laws, but if they aren't able to do it then we're going to have to put pen to paper," said Rep. Singer.

Michael Elliott is the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. He represents both recreational and medical marijuana business.

"Is the marijuana industry against lab testing for medical marijuana?" asked 7NEWS Reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"The industry is supportive of medical marijuana testing, we just have a lot of concerns with how testing is going on the recreational side," explained Elliott.

Elliott said there are concerns about increased costs for patients, and inconsistencies with results from multiple labs.

"We need to do some streamlining and revaluation of it to make it more efficient and better," he said.

As for patients such as Robnett's, they want the problems fixed so testing can move forward for medical pot.

"We have patients that are using this as medicine and we just want to know that the medicine they're consuming is safe," she said. 

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