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California cannabis must meet higher testing standards by July 1st

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The state of California will implement stricter testing standards for pesticides and residual solvents in cannabis products on July 1.

"We're going from 21 pesticides that we test for, prior to July 1, to 66 pesticides," EVIO labs general manager Gordon Griswold said. "It's a significant increase, and a significant amount of work has to happen to do that."

Every product sitting on the shelves of dispensaries must meet these new restrictions set by the state. Any product that fails to make the cut must be out of the store by the start of July. Vendors caught with product that's non-compliant after the July 1 deadline could face a fine and other penalties for a violation.

Anything that isn't sold before the first of July must either be sent back to the distributor or destroyed.

"We have several items that, right now, are discounting at 50 percent because we're not sure they are going to be compliant," Heart of Humboldt Co-owner Marcia Brownfield said.

"Luckily for us, we've kept a really close eye on the things that we're bringing in so we don't have too much stuff that's not compliant," Humboldt County Collective Manager Savannah Snow said. "The things that aren't, we're kind of fire-selling them right now."

The testing process is called high-performance liquid chromatography. It's a complex procedure and exact science that also isn't cheap.

"It's where products are diluted, then when you put the product into the liquid chromatography machines, you will start to see peaks coming up on the graph," Griswold said. "Those graphs align with your standards, so there's a computer that will automatically calculate all your peaks based on what your standards are and will tell you what your percentage of THC, CBD, and the other cannabinoids are."

Griswold also says anyone who thinks they can slip a bad product past the test should think twice.

"We are testing these things at parts per billion," Griswold said. "Extremely, extremely, minute numbers, so it's very difficult to get anything past that has any pesticides in it."

However, more extensive tests cost more money to conduct, which could force vendors to raise their prices. The Heart of Humboldt co-owner said she might not have a choice but to raise prices.

"I'm assuming that the testing is going to cost us so much that we won't have any choice," Brownfield said. "We'll have to see. We're kind of just playing it by ear. We try not to mark things up anymore than we have to."

"It's definitely adding cost to the vendors and things of that sort," Snow said. "I think in the long run we'll see a little bit of an increase in the pricing."

It also means testing facilities are seeing larger amounts of product flooding their labs.

"The biggest problem is going to be backlog," Griswold said. "It's not even turnaround time. It's the amount of product we have to turnaround."

If you'd like to learn more about EVIO labs, you can visit their website here.

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