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What's in California pot?

Nearly 20 per cent of marijuana products in California have failed tests for potency and purity since the state started requiring the checks on July 1, a failure rate some in the industry say has more to do with unrealistic standards and technical glitches than protecting consumer safety.

The testing has been especially tough on cannabis-infused cookies, candies and tinctures: about one-third have been blocked from store shelves.

In much smaller numbers, testing companies licensed by the state are finding unacceptable levels of pesticides, solvents and bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella, according to data provided to The Associated Press by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control.

In the first two months, nearly 11,000 samples were tested and almost 2,000 failed. In some cases, the product must be destroyed. But many involve labeling issues that can be corrected. For example, a marijuana bud that's tested to show a different potency than what's on the label can be relabeled and sold with the right specification.

To the state, the strict testing program is largely doing what it was designed to do: identify marijuana buds, concentrates, munchies and other products that are in some way tainted and unsuitable for eating or smoking.

"Mandatory statewide testing is a new thing and it's going to take some time for everything to run smoothly, but on the whole we're pleased with how things are progressing," Bureau of Cannabis Control spokesman Alex Traverso said.

But as regulators consider recasting rules governing the nation's largest legal pot economy, they are facing pressure to revamp testing requirements that are being alternately described as going too far, not far enough, or an overly costly burden.

The California Growers Association, an industry group, is among those concerned the state is forcing growers and manufacturers to hit too tiny a target when gauging levels of THC, the psychoactive chemical that causes marijuana's high.

Rules require the THC concentration come within 10 per cent of what is advertised on a product label. Company executives say some products are being rejected after landing outside the margin by tiny amounts.

The California Cannabis Manufacturers Association, another industry group, is pushing for changes that include allowing companies to challenge lab testing results.



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