Why Oregon Should Maintain Strict Testing Requirements For Oils

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is proposing a drastic change to its pesticide residue testing requirements of cannabis concentrates and extracts. The proposed changes may not be so good for consumer health.

The rule change would loosen up testing requirements specifically for processors that make concentrates or extracts. Instead of having to test every lot of oil produced for pesticide residue, the proposed rules would allow processors to test just one batch per year. You might think that as long as processors are using cannabis that passes the required pesticide tests that the concentrates and extracts would be pure and clean too. However, it doesn't work that way. Any pesticide residue on trim or flower that gets extracted winds up being concentrated into the final product. So a grower can get trim and flower tested for pesticide residues, and it won't pop hot for pesticide residues because the residue can be extremely low and undetectable. But when pounds of that same trim and flower are extracted with solvents like alcohol, carbon dioxide, butane, hexane or propane, chemical contaminants will get concentrated and it can definitely test positive for pesticide residues that aren't allowed. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you might think. In these situations, it leaves growers embarrassed, and forced to absorb a big financial loss if their trim isn't clean enough to produce cannabis oil that can't be sold. It's not always clear where the pesticide residue found in the cannabis oil is coming from. Rather than the grower foolishly using pesticides that are not allowed on Oregon cannabis, the problem most likely stems from our polluted landscapes where pesticide use on non-organic farms and landscaping is unfortunately the norm. Some pesticides can persist for years in farm soils and buildings. If the goal of the OHA is to protect the health of the people of Oregon, they would do better to leave the current pesticide testing requirements in place. Reducing lot testing of cannabis concentrates and extracts to just once per year will certainly mean that Oregonians will be vaping tainted oils. Whatever reduction in costs associated with reduced pesticide residue testing won't be worth the potential harm to public health or the fallout when Oregonians realize that their cannabis processed products aren't as pure as they thought. Who really wins if the OHA softens up on pesticide residue testing requirements?

Side Note: The OHA distinguishes cannabis concentrates from cannabis extracts by the solvent used. For folks like me that like to read all the persnickety details, you can read the OHA definitions here. Simply put, the solvent used to make cannabis concentrates are generally alcohol or CO2 and the solvent used to make cannabis extracts are butane, hexane, or propane. Different solvents produce oils with different qualities and attributes. But only concentrates extracted with CO2 or certified organic alcohol would be eligible for Certified Kind or USDA Organic certification (if and when it ever becomes available for cannabis products).