Lab: More than 20 percent of Hawaii medical marijuana products rejected for sale

The state requires rigorous testing of medical marijuana.
There are strict laws in Hawaii governing the testing of medical marijuana.
There are strict laws in Hawaii governing the testing of medical marijuana.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Oct. 12, 2018 at 12:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s first and largest medical marijuana testing lab says that more than one-fifth of the cannabis products it tests in the islands are rejected for sale.

“About 20 to 30 percent gets rejected, fails the compliance test. And I would say that 95 percent of that is from biological organisms," said Michael Covington, chief operations officer for Steep Hill Hawaii.

The state has required rigorous testing of medical cannabis products since medical marijuana dispensaries opened last year.

Covington said in its raw form, marijuana grown for a dispensary can pick up mold, yeast and bacteria.

But he said unlike mainland growers, medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii rarely use pesticides, so that’s not a big issue here.

“We seldom pick up pesticides and if we do it’s usually a mistake, someone used the wrong can of something and sprayed it," he said.

Rejected marijuana is either destroyed or broken down into oils and retested for contaminants.

Advocates said these results shouldn’t be considered alarming because they’re in line with what other states are finding. But they do show how important labs like these are for the consumers.

“We’re assuming people with compromised immune systems are going to be using this product. So we want to make sure it’s clean, clean of contamination," Covington said.

“We’re trying to give them medicine, not poison.”

Right now, there are two of these labs on Oahu and one on Maui. Starting next week, Steep Hill will open its first lab in Kona, to serve the growing Big Island market.

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