Recent clients at Main Street Marijuana in Vancouver’s Uptown Village neighborhood have doubtless observed a brand new set of indicators prominently displayed in a few of the retailer’s show instances. They’re arduous to overlook: an enormous purple OK emblem on a black background.
The indicators come from an industry-led program referred to as OK Cannabis, which provides testing providers to detect pesticides and heavy metals in hashish finish merchandise — the kind of absolutely processed and packaged items that buyers will discover on retailer cabinets.
Retailers say the program is meant partially to teach shoppers about what they characterize as a niche in Washington’s regulatory framework: the state doesn’t require leisure marijuana merchandise to be examined for pesticides.
Big sellers take part
The OK Cannabis program continues to be in its infancy, with solely 4 retailers collaborating to date. Main Street is the primary Southwest Washington retailer to enroll.
But the collaborating shops are among the many largest within the state by gross sales quantity; Main Street is ranked first, and Evergreen Market, Uncle Ike’s and Green2Go are all within the prime 10. Program founder Ian Eisenberg says ideally he’d wish to see each dispensary within the state enroll.
“Not many stores care (about pesticide testing), to be honest, and it’s unfortunate,” he says. “Some vendors really want to get tested, and some not so much.”
Dispensaries pay a flat $1,000 month-to-month fee to enroll (plus one other $500 for every further location they function) and supply OK Cannabis with an up-to-date record of all of the merchandise on their cabinets.
Once per thirty days, OK Cannabis randomly selects a number of merchandise from the stock for testing. A 3rd-party service picks up the merchandise and delivers them to a contracted testing facility, Redmond-based Confidence Analytics. The outcomes are revealed on the OK Cannabis web site.
If a product fails testing, the collaborating retailers are obligated to tug it from retailer cabinets, supply refunds to clients and both change suppliers or work with their present suppliers to seek out the supply of the contamination and repair it.
Eisenberg owns the Uncle Ike’s dispensary shops within the Seattle space, and he says the thought for the program grew out of his efforts to ensure its merchandise have been freed from contaminants. Uncle Ike’s started having its merchandise examined quickly after it opened 4 years in the past, he says, and the preliminary outcomes weren’t promising, with a failure price of 30-40 %.
“Pretty much everything tested positive for pesticides,” he says.
The outcomes improved over time as the shop started working with its suppliers, and the employees ultimately determined to increase the program past its personal shops, renaming it OK Cannabis. They began reaching out to attempt to recruit different retailers about seven months in the past.
Main Street enrolled in May, and its first spherical of merchandise handed the checks, co-owner Adam Hamide says, however the existence of the program continues to be prompting growers to enhance their practices to ensure they proceed to cross.
“We’ve seen multiple vendors change their procedures based on this program already,” Hamide says. “It’s changing the way people are doing things, on a producer-processor level.”
The administrative aspect of the program is dealt with by Eisenberg and different employees from Uncle Ike’s underneath a separate company entity, however Eisenberg says he ultimately hopes to spin it off right into a nonprofit as soon as extra shops come on board.
There’s undoubtedly a advertising angle to the program — dispensaries that cross the check are given giant OK Cannabis indicators that they will add to the show cabinets for the examined merchandise, and Hamide says the program serves as a promoting level for Main Street, because it’s the one enrolled retailer within the area.
But Hamide and Eisenberg say the program additionally helps educate shoppers by highlighting a niche in the best way Washington regulates the burgeoning hashish industry and checks its shopper merchandise.
“There are certain things they do test for — mold and moisture content, those things are getting tested by all growers,” Hamide says. “But what’s not getting tested is heavy metals and pesticides.”
Washington does have established requirements for acceptable ranges of pesticides and different contaminants — known as motion ranges — however the state Liquor and Cannabis Board’s testing course of is presently triggered by complaints, no less than in terms of leisure merchandise.
“On the medical side, there are additional tests for pesticides, etc.,” stated Liquor and Cannabis Board Communications Director Brian Smith.
That might change as early as subsequent yr, Smith stated — the company plans to increase the scope of its testing program, and an inner workgroup is presently learning how to take action with out overwhelming retailers.
But within the meantime, most leisure merchandise go untested, and Eisenberg and Hamide say shoppers in all probability aren’t conscious of the precise laws for testing.
“I think a lot of people probably believe (the products) are being tested for pesticides,” Hamide says.
Eisenberg is aware of state regulators are engaged on testing, however he says there’ll nonetheless be room for a program like OK Cannabis, particularly if the state’s expanded testing program focuses on producers fairly than retailers.
There are a variety of methods a hashish product might turn into contaminated between when it undergoes producer testing and when it finally ends up on retailer cabinets, Eisenberg says. Flavoring added throughout processing might carry pesticides of its personal, or metallic cartridges might leach contaminants into the product. There’s an particularly excessive danger for concentrates and extract merchandise, Hamide says.
“You’re concentrating everything — the THC and the pesticide,” he says.