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Green Room Diaries: Testing, Testing...4, 2, 0...

by Stoned Cold Sativa Awesome

Okay, so what’s the issue with testing? Planned Parenthood never asks me what strains I’ve been smoking. My weed’s never developed a sore. Why are certain Oregon lawmakers pushing for more (and, in some cases, less) testing for recreational cannabis?

Well, the sentiment being conveyed is that a large percentage of dispensary weed from Oregon would not pass California testing standards. From this implication, the call for "better and more rigorous" cannabis testing from Oregon is made. This sounds fine and dandy, until one realizes that Oregon already has rigorous testing standards, which are facilitated using trusted, established labs. California’s testing standards [1] require private, contracted testing agencies to ensure "proper appearance and odor," as well as lack of cross-pollination from different strains and "the terpenes described in the most current version of the cannabis inflorescence monograph published by the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia." In contrast, Colorado’s legislation [1] requires a much more scientific and logical set of general standards, with laws and provisions not falling under sub-sections of a testing facility (instead, Colorado’s laws state that testing facilities must follow said guidelines). So, in Cali, a first-generation hybrid that is trimmed just a tad too loose and hasn’t been submitted to a registry is not up to code and won’t be, until a private company takes their cut. A logical thinker would assume that this was S.F. and L.A.’s way of pushing those tax-dodgers in Humboldt County out of the picture, but let’s just pretend that the state of California is looking out for b-nugs and fuzzy weed because of health and safety.

So, what’s the drive behind this push for new laws that affect cannabis testing? Taking only a semi-biased approach to this issue, I’ve broken this down into the seeds and stems.

First of all, there is a large amount of moldy, improperly cured and/or just-plain-bad cannabis that is waiting to be circulated to unknowing consumers, but unable to move due to current testing standards. Therefore, any laws that suggest rolling back or reducing the testing process are a bad idea (doing so will only open the door to crappy product). However, cannabis is made most harmful by mold spores; if a person who is allergic to mold smokes bad bud, they may die.

Next, is the issue of cost. As it stands, the old school, Eugene-area farmers who were set to hit a green rush upon legalization of cannabis, well...they’re kind of like old-school computer programmers; once big money from out of town moved in, they became obsolete. Since recreational marijuana is barely grandfathered in, at least in practice (the intentions of laws are often subverted by the realities of the market), there exists no unified, like-minded, unofficial union-ish set of standards (which medical growers tend to have). As opposed to a New York City entrepreneur attempting to set up a medical grow (next to impossible), a savvy-minded businesswoman from, say, Japan, can find a way to wedge into profit generated from recreational cannabis. However, the locals are still given first pick of the dispensary harvest.

So, what could push out the old blood, besides under- regulation and the wild west? Over-regulation and excess expenses.

Every wondered why microbreweries are the new fad? Look into the laws governing commercial breweries. Wonder why your neighbor isn’t growing tobacco? Ask Phillip-Morris. Once an organic, illicit or otherwise god-given product goes from the black market to mainstream, the window for small business to jump in becomes smaller than the one Voodoo Donut used to sell their donuts from. So, back to the point of this column, if testing costs become too great for honest, clean, organic mom-andpop weed farmers to afford, welcome to Wal-Mart, would you like Chinese Sativa or India-ca? Oh, you want to buy real weed? Better go back to the newlyrecreated black market, which exists because previously- legal growers were out bid by testing facilities and priced back into plastic bags and diggie scales.

With the Trump administration being to blame for everything from pineapple pizza to meme theft, it’s hard to focus on the real-life, actually-fuckedup- shit that his administration is threatening to do. Comments made by Sean Spicer [2] have implied that the federal government is planning on doing a mass data collection in regards to "documented felonies," which include the time your aunt bought a joint at the weed store last year. Will medical marijuana patients be subpoenaed? Probably not. But, recreational users can kiss their asses goodbye. Now, since there’s not enough room in the prisons (a federal crime) for your aunt Patty and her friends, the DEA will likely be going after growers and suppliers. Since, as it stands, initial batches of product are usually tested (and stamped with results) via anonymous means, it would only make sense that further registration of records of growers, dispensaries, etc., would open the door to non-anonymous means of collecting records. After all, how are contracted testing facilities expected to operate when the feds pressure them with a "give us your records, or face federal charges" pitch? Put simply, further regulations that result in paperwork of any kind will help build up data mines for the federal government to swoop in and collect, should they every decide to move forward on Spicer’s plan. Who grows what amount, how often, where they live, etc...this information is semi-available now, but mostly limited to medical patients and growers.

I don’t like to think of myself as a conservative, but the classical definition hits home with me; if it works, let’s not fix it. Are the new pressures for higher testing standards concerned with death by mold? Nah, but the word "pesticide" sounds bad, so let’s go after that because, ya know, organic, granola- eating hippies who schedule their medication based on astrological charts are just the biggest fans of spraying their crops with chemicals (sarcastic eye roll goes here). And hybrid strains that are improperly labeled? I mean, I remember the time I risked my life by taking a miniature canister full of butane, used it to ignite a piece of paper that has been laced with glue and/or given artificial flavors, inhaled carcinogenic smoke and thought, "Holy shit, this isn’t Trainwreck, it’s Haramberry Kush." Yes, we need to revamp the testing regulations, but for the love of god, let’s not follow California in any way (weed-related or otherwise).

I’m urging lawmakers, lobbyists, off-duty stripper activists, friends, growers, cops and anyone who actually wants to normalize cannabis in a way that benefits everyone, to read the fucking manual. Talk to small time growers. Figure out what testing standards are, before you share false flags on Facebook. Same sentiment goes out to anyone looking to lessen regulations on testing; I don’t want to buy mold from the weed store. We need to take our time, not chase the dollar and do our research.

Follow Colorado’s lead. Make rules and then ensure that companies that profit by helping growers comply are held to standards, not the other way around (as California has done).

Slow down, take a puff and relax, man. Otherwise, we’re gonna end up buying our weed directly from Monsanto. Oh, the irony.

Editor’s note: It appears that Sativa is a few days ahead of schedule for his submission, as SB 863, which protects marijuana users’ data to a large extent, is already moving through the rungs. Stay tuned and, in the meantime, check this link (and email your representatives) for more information.

[1] http://www.leafly.com/news/industry/leaflysstate-by-state-guide-to-cannabis-testing-regulations

[2] http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2017/02/trump_administration_takes_aim.html