Marijuana Businesses Push Back On Oregon's Testing Rules, Ask For Delay


Some makers of marijuana concentrates, extracts and edibles are sounding dire alarms about how the state’s new testing rules are holding back their products from the market and jeopardizing their businesses.

They complain that the state lacks approved labs to carry out all of the required tests, causing long delays, forcing them to mull layoffs and generally leaving them out of the state’s new recreational marijuana program that opened this month.

The state has 18 accredited and approved labs for marijuana; only four are approved to test for pesticides, a hallmark of Oregon’s marijuana regulation.

"There is a fundamental failure going on here," said attorney Amy Margolis, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Association, a trade group. "I am getting countdown clocks from clients saying, ‘This is how many days I have until I have to shut down.’"

The criticisms have pushed Oregon’s pot regulators to convene a meeting Wednesday to evaluate the problems. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, in charge of the state’s recreational marijuana sales, processing and production, wants to sort "fact from fiction," said the agency’s executive director, Steven Marks.

"We won’t give up on the state’s goal to have in place the most rigorously tested protocol in place in the country," Marks said Tuesday.

It’ll be early next year before the industry fully adapts to the new rules, he predicted.

"It’s not going to be a perfect line," he said. "There will be a lot of nips and tucks to get through it."

That’s little consolation to processors like Trista Okel, owner of Empower Oil, a Clackamas County-based company that makes topical products. She said only a couple of the approved labs even returned her recent phone calls. They warned they are weeks out from being able to test her oils.

She said she’s stopped making most of her line. "At this point I am waiting to see what happens," she said.

Cameron Yee, owner of Bend-based Lunchbox Alchemy, an edibles and extract maker, said he, too, halted production because he can’t find a lab. He sounded panicked Tuesday, describing the 60,000 marijuana-infused candies in a warehouse awaiting testing, the prospect of laying off 35 employees within the week and the debt he faces if his business fails.

"This is not a joke," he said. "We followed all of their rules. If you follow their rules, you cannot succeed. I don’t think I am going to make it out of this."

Norris Monson, CEO of Cultivated Industries, which produces and processes cannabis, said after multiple calls to labs, he’s finally getting his products tested but at a steep cost.

He said producers and processors, accustomed to relatively inexpensive test costs under the old rules, are in for sticker shock.

"What would have cost $125 is now into the thousands," he said.

Meanwhile, in southern Oregon, where the outdoor harvest is underway, grower Cedar Grey hasn’t had a tough time getting his products into labs. He said he planned ahead and made appointments with labs "well in advance."

But even careful planning doesn’t mean his products will make it into the market this month as he’d hoped. He said testing delays and getting his labels approved by regulators held things up.

Ultimately, Grey, whose company is called Siskiyou Sungrown, expects to make the transition to the new market but he thinks a lot of small businesses without solid financial backing will wash out.

"It’s like the Gold Rush," he said. "There is a lot of speculation and people coming into the business without business experience. To some degree, it’s not surprising that many of these businesses will fail as things get more competitive."

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Marijuana Businesses Push Back On Oregon’s Testing Rules, Ask For Delay
Author: Noelle Crombie
Contact: OregonLive
Photo Credit: Beth Nakamura
Website: OregonLive