Needless to say, things have not been going smoothly when it comes down to getting new cannabis products on dispensary shelves after the new regulations went into place this past Saturday October 1st. Under new regulations mandated by both OHA and OLCC, any company that wants to sell their product to a dispensary needs to have that product tested by an ORELAP certified lab. This opens up a bevy of complicated issues for growers and processors.
To start off, there are not enough ORELAP accredited labs in Oregon. Labs have been trying for months to get their accreditation, but due to a small staff and severe issues with the drinking water in public schools, there are 16 labs on the official ORELAP Accredited Lab List. This problems worsens though, because not all 16 labs are officially licensed and trained by ORELAP which means that they cannot take in any samples to test.
One producer, who has asked to remain anonymous, has made several calls to labs that are listed online and has not yet been able to find one who will take their product in for sampling. Being a small batch producer, they have tried their best to stay on top of all of the new rules and regulations, but are flat out confused since they have not been able to get answers as to when labs will be ready, or why they aren’t ready yet if they are listed online.
The cost now associated with having your product tested has gone up significantly as well. For a lab to get their ORELAP accreditation, it takes a lot of new equipment, procedure, and staff. The equipment, training, and implementation of all of this has nearly doubled the cost per test. Last week a lab test would have run a company around $100 per test, now that cost has risen to anywhere between $350 to $500.
Let’s now couple that cost with the new sample batch sizes that are needed for testing. Before new regulations went into place, a processor could bring a sample of their product (be in a few grams) to the lab for testing, pay one fee, and walk away with their entire batch ready for sale. Now, dependent upon how much product a company needs to have tested, there is a quantity of tests that are needed to be conducted.
This is where it gets confusing and seriously daunting for processors looking to make it to the holidays… If I am an oil processor and have 1 pound of CO2 oil ready to put into a cartridge for sale, I will need to now have 8 tests conducted and give a lab 32 grams of oil for testing. You need to give 2 grams for potency, 1 gram of pesticides, and 1 gram for residuals per sample sample required. Those 8 tests will cost me $2,800 (assuming I go with the current cheapest option of $350 per test) I will need to give the lab 32 grams of oil, $640 (value $20 per gram) alongside the labor costs it took to produce that oil. This is just for ONE POUND(!) For every one pound tested I need to shell out around $3,500 for testing.
The second option for oil processors would be to have their facilities validated for 2 years. This process takes three sessions of sampling. Each session has to be exemplative of the size you will always bring in to sample. For example, if you test one pound then you will have to bring in just one pound per sample batch for the next two years. By doing the testing this way, a company would only have to test each new batch for pesticides and residuals when making new product. Here’s the kicker… if your sample comes back positive for pesticides, you only have one shot to get your product clean or that whole entire lot is garbage.
Cameron Forni, one of the Owners and Founders of Cura CS, makers of Select Strains CO2 Cartridges just had to furlough 40 of their employees until this issue is solved. “We have no product for sale as we haven’t been able to get a lab in for testing. We are at a complete standstill due to this entire process. Labs are not ready, and sampling procedures do not work.”
This issue is crippling to small business owners who have been working their asses off the last 2 years to make it to the recreational cannabis market. Bryan Bowers, Co-Founder and Owner of Truly Pure, is beside himself trying to understand why this is justified. “Us small businesses with 10 employees and no backers are losing ALL OF OUR MONEY. Some companies won’t be able to come back from this. It will take months for us to come back from just this one month of being inactive.”
It is a mess out there, and although the every day consumer might not see it since there is still product on the shelf, the question is for how long? One dispensary owner, who asked to remain anonymous, has not yet taken any new product in. In fact, they have not even been approached. They made sure to take in as much product before the Oct. 1 day so that their shelves will stay stocked until this entire ordeal is worked out.
We are sure there will be updates so will make sure to continue to update everyone as this issue further progresses.