Every single batch of cannabis products in Washington is tested – that’s the law. But the Liquor and Cannabis Board requires cannabis businesses to operate on good faith, as in: “we trust you – test the stuff, make sure your certificate of analysis (C.O.A.) is with every manifest … we may check up on you, or not.”
Part 2 of our ongoing series on cannabis testing
So how easy is it for the consumer to access that information about potency, pesticide use, moisture content, beneficial insects, yeast and mold … other possibly nasty stuff? The answers is – not that easy. In part 1 of this series – Think It’s So Easy with Pot Testing in Paradise City? You’re Crazy! – we visited some pot shops looking for certificates of analysis and came up short. For part 2 we hired an analytics consultant to visit even more shops and also do some testing. The result – false claims about a product … that was probably not even tested! And, of course, a continued inability to get certificates of analysis from most shops.
Our analytics consultant visited – anonymously, of course – Uncle Ike’s in the CD, Ike’s on Capitol Hill, Ruckus on Capitol Hill, Ponder in the CD, Bud Nation in White Center, Dockside in Fremont and Diego Pellicer in SODO. Only the Uncle Ike’s stores and Dockside were able to provide C.O.A.’s for purchased products when requested. And, as mentioned in part 1, nobody is asking for these, the stores are unprepared, and the WSLCB provides no help.
Six 1/2 gram units of “Charlotte Tsunami” marketed under the Wam Oil brand were purchased to evaluate the samples for pesticides. Confidence Analytics said they would accept a single cartridge for testing … Medicine Creek Analytics and Molecular Testing preferred three cartridges for tests. Every privately run lab in Washington offers different tests – one lab tests for 20 pesticides, another for 57, and so on. We chose Medicine Creek Analytics, which tests for 159 different pesticides.
Wam Oil packaging states that the product is “pesticide tested” and a look at their website shows that “WAM Oil actively sources material from only Clean Green Certified farms, which is the cannabis equivalent of the USDA’s organic standard for produce.” There is no cannabis equivalent of USDA certification, because cannabis is illegal on the federal level. Clean Green Certified is a thing – they claim that their system is “the Closest to ‘Organic’ that Cannabis can get”. Which is not very close.
A link at wamoil.com to “download pesticide reports” leads to a page with no pesticide reports, just a claim that Wam sources from Green Barn Farms, which is “clean green certified.” Oh, and also that they use rosemary oil and clove oil (both toxic in high doses). And some neem oil – a generally non-toxic plant-derived pesticide but also a skin and stomach irritant. And they sometimes bring in “predatory insects such as nematodes and cucumeris mites as a preventative measure to control pest (sic).” Nematodes are worms, not insects.
Another disturbing note about WAM oil cartridges is they clearly state the product is “Produced and Manufactured by WAM oil.” WAM is licensed as a processor only and not a grower/producer. Processors are required by law to label their products with the name of the producer they buy from as well as the producer’s UBI number. This gives the consumer the knowledge of where the source flower came from and can help in case of a potential product recall. A records search shows that WAM buys flower from many sources. In many cases buying flower for as low as $.02 a gram. A customer has the right to know where the source flower comes from, no? Another head-scratcher is that legally – processors have to buy material for a price above production cost, to insure there are no “true party of interest” violations. In what scenario does it cost less than 2 cents a gram to grow pot?
To make a long and technical story short, our analytics expert found that:
1. There is no evidence to support Wam Oil’s claim that this product (Charlotte Tsunami) was tested for pesticides. And traceability data from WSLCB was not showing the product as being something tested as oil.
2. There is no evidence that a product called “Charlotte Tsunami” was tested for potency either, and both batches we had tested (Oct 2017 and Nov 2017) had identical potency profiles on their labels.
3. Wam Oil (dba Yava) did not return multiple calls or emails. Their website makes dubious claims and is short on facts.
4. Wam Oil might not have been tested at all. Luckily for them, their certificate of analysis from Medicine Creek Analytics came back clean – no pesticides!
This is still the wild west as far as pesticide testing goes. Wam Oil, winner of Best Concentrate Company in the Dope Magazine 2017 Dope Industry Awards, is “Washington’s original” and “clean green certified.” According to who, the marketing guy? According to the people who made their promo video – which is a string of unverifiable generalities and cliches about health and wellness? Folks – it’s gonna be a while before you can walk in to a pot shop and get a complete report on your product: a certificate of analysis with results for pesticides, terpenes, CDB, THC … and everything else. (Disclosure: Uncle Ike’s sells some clean green certified products).
To their credit, Wam’s website does have (incomplete, inconsistent) C.O.A. information for many of their products (updated a bit since our analytics consultant wrote his report). The C.O.A.’s are from Analytical 360 – a good lab. Still, you have to wonder, is 5076 parts per million of Ethanol (Wam Oil Jack 47 sativa hybrid oil) something to be concerned about? That’s booze, right? And here are test results from their Jack Herer (Washington State Sample ID: WAL4.IN49XQG) Microbial: not tested. Heavy metals: not tested. Water activity: not tested. Pesticides: not tested. Oh.
Does the consumer really want beneficial insects – that may or not be fornicating and or defecating – on their cannabis? Do they want worms? Hundreds of possible pesticides? Mold? Consumers have the right to know if these things are in the products they will be consuming. In Washington State, the industry and the WSLCB have a lot of work to do to make sure this information is immediately accessible to everyone. It would be good for everybody to see the wild west turn into a boring, legally compliant, accurate system. Let’s go from – “just trust me, baby” to “here are my test results – let’s boogie!”
-Alex R. Mayer
August 24, 2018