What’s holding up testing for medical marijuana patients in Colorado?

MED-MARIJUANA-LABCannabis Patients Alliance has been working diligently this session to get access to licensed (or at least certified) testing labs for patients. We’ve talked with anyone and everyone who would listen, and even some who wouldn’t. We’ve communicated with legislators and sponsors of any bill where we thought we might be able to work something out.  We’ve sat through meetings and stakeholders groups with lobbyists, labs, MED, CDPHE, Dept. of Ag, the governor’s office, industry groups and other interested parties, carrying the message that patients need access to testing.

I have to tell you, the opposition is fierce, coming from all directions. Although everyone seems to agree that patients should have access to testing their own medicine as well as what comes from the industry, all these brilliant minds can’t seem to figure out how to do it.

The MED/DOR is worried about stopping diversion and satisfying the feds. They don’t want the black or gray markets to have any advantage. Everything MUST be kept within the closed-loop seed-to-sale system that is the licensed and regulated industry. They claim that it’s the only way to keep the federal government out.

The CDPHE doesn’t know what to do if a lab test shows some contamination. They need more time to figure out how to handle that situation. So while everyone continues to discuss it, patients still don’t get access to the labs.

The industry groups sure don’t want it. They claim that they paid for the privilege of utilizing these licensed labs through all the fees they’ve had to pay, all the money they’ve had to spend, and all the hoops they’ve had to jump through. They claim that patients haven’t had to endure any of these hardships and don’t deserve to have access to these labs. Maybe I’m mistaken, but weren’t there medical marijuana patients before there was the medical marijuana industry? And didn’t the industry pass those costs onto their customers?

You have to wonder what some in the industry are trying to hide when they fight so hard to block exposure of any information about them to the public. Talk to the labs and you’ll get an idea. They don’t want to be required to test their products, but they don’t want you to be able to test them either.

There’s language in the Medical Marijuana Sunset Bill (SB15-115, read the pre-amended version) that bars the MED from releasing any information about test results to the public. The licensed labs are only allowed to test for the licensed industry, and everyone wants to keep it that way. Patients or the public have no access to the CDPHE-certified, MED-licensed labs to test the industry’s products or their own. If they take products anywhere else, like to a “garage lab” if they can find one, they have no reasonable assurance that the results will be accurate. The industry shouldn’t get to have it both ways. At some point, doesn’t the public, or at least patients, have a right to know?

We tried working with the labs to figure out where the issues are. Some fully support testing for patients, not just because it’s good for business, but because as scientists they believe that patients have a right to know. It’s been a challenge for these labs to get certified by the CDPHE to even test for microbials. Now I don’t know if this had anything to do with it, but it’s interesting to note that right after we challenged the CDPHE on this issue in a meeting with the governor’s staff, noting that at that time not a single lab had been certified by the CDPHE, that 5 labs received their certification to test for microbials in the week that followed. Hmmm…

In an attempt to address issues about consistency in testing, Rep. Steve Lebsock has introduced a bill (HB15-1283) to establish a reference library and lab to establish standards for the CDPHE-certified, MED-licensed labs. The bill, as it was introduced, includes access to any person or business that is licensed, registered or certified. That would include patients and caregivers.

Rep. Lebsock has gotten such strong push back that he feels he must amend the bill, taking out any reference to registered “people,” in order to get it to pass. No one wants that section in there except patients and some labs.

What’s their solution? Keep talking about it.

That’s it. Another stakeholder’s group in the Caregiver Bill (SB15-014, read the pre-amended version)  to talk about options to allow patients access to testing. That should delay things for at least another year or two, which is exactly what the industry wants.

Patients were pleading for testing during the hearing for the Caregiver Bill. We have parents dosing their children blindly because they don’t have access to the information they need, while there are reports in the news about contaminants and cannabinoid potency issues.

It’s time to tell them that waiting isn’t good enough. Patients need access to quality testing now, not a year or two down the road.

HB15-1283 will have its first hearing before the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on Thursday, March 26 at 1:30 in Room 0107 (basement). Call and email the Committee asking them to support the bill as introduced. Show up to the hearing in support. Tell them that patients need access to testing and why. Then listen to all the objections.

We’ve spent hours and hours working on this issue, among the many we address on behalf of medical marijuana patients. Up until now, we’ve funded this important work out of our own pocket, giving everything we have to this mission. Unfortunately, we can’t continue without your financial support. Gratitude is important, but it doesn’t pay the bills. The industry lobby is strong and very well-funded. Without your support, we simply can’t continue speaking out for patients. Please contribute to Cannabis Patients Alliance (not tax-deductible) so this critical work can continue.



Categories: Advocacy, Business & Industry, Colorado, Patients, Policy & Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlsBGXNxJYU Watch this link, if we can grow our own plants we don’t need Medical cannabis, we will have the ability to heal ourselves.

    Like

  2. I’ve only been in this industry six months, but the cynicism and misdirected priorities have made me numb. Thank you for waking me back up.

    We are out-funded, but not outnumbered. Hold on just a bit longer, Mary; we’ll get this sorted.

    Frank Conrad
    Lab Director, Colorado Green Lab

    Like

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