Lab Shortage Holds Back Marijuana Safety Testing

As reported by, mandatory marijuana safety testing in Colorado is still months away, with potency testing not scheduled to begin until May of this year, and contamination testing not required until October.

Contaminant testing will be required to screen marijuana products for bacteria, mold, filth and chemical solvents. While it is virtually impossible to die of an overdose of cannabis, people can die from contaminants.  According to one lab owner, E. Coli and Salmonella have both showed up in previous tests, though she declined to discuss the specifics or frequency.

At present, the testing laboratories are operating on provisional licenses.  Only three are licensed by the state, and are already overworked.

The goal is to have all legal marijuana products subject to health and quality standards as high as those for food and alcohol. In the meantime, pot buyers should look for labels to see whether any quality testing has been done at all.

Of course, it is unlikely that the current situation will hold up sales, since marijuana products have never been regulated in such a fashion in the past.

Prior to this summer, the Colorado Department of Health tested for THC in DUI cases, but it discontinued testing after DUI attorneys questioned bias in the lab. Testing for quality in cannabis will not be related to DUI cases.

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