General Regulatory Procedures

General Regulatory Procedures

Cultivation to Sale

The new laws provide strict regulations regarding the chain of cannabis from cultivation to dispensary sales. First, cultivators must send their product directly to a distributor, who tests for quality assurance. The distributor then inspects the marijuana to ensure its identity and quantity. Once this has been verified, the distributor sends a random sample to a testing facility, which issues a certificate of analysis stating that the product is fit for manufacturing or retail. At that point, the distributor commences a quality assurance review, which again ensures the quantity and content of the cannabis, along with verification of tracking and taxation information for the state. Prior to its arrival at a retail facility, licensed cultivators and manufacturers package or seal all the cannabis in tamper-evident packaging and mark it with its unique identifier number. This must also be completed prior to the product’s transport or delivery to a licensee, qualified patient, or caregiver. Finally, a qualified transporter must operate all movement of the product from cultivation to its arrival at a dispensary.

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Pesticides, the Environment, and Medical Cannabis

Because growing cannabis remains illegal under federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established appropriate pesticide tolerances or regulations for cannabis crops. The lack of standardization and rules has caused much concern about pesticide regulation in the industry, particularly as cannabis is intended for human consumption. Under the new laws, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, along with a bevy of other state authorities, is charged with establishing standards for the use of pesticides on crops. This includes establishing maximum levels, what pesticides are appropriate, and regulation.

In addition, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are addressing concerns about the cannabis industry’s effect on water use and other environmental impacts. The MMRSA implements a program that requires the Bureau and Department to evaluate individual and cumulative effects of facilities on water diversion and discharge in order to ensure that cannabis cultivation does not affect instream flows, which are needed for fish spawning, migration, and rearing. In addition, cultivation must not have a negative impact on springs, riparian wetlands, and aquatic habitats.

The MMRSA addresses waste produced by the cannabis industry as well, as the new laws establish that regional boards must regulate waste discharge in a multitude of ways. First, development and maintenance of crop sites must include erosion control and drainage features. In addition, soil disposal, water storage and use, and irrigation runoff are all regulated. Furthermore, the use of fertilizers, petroleum products, and other chemical is monitored, and both cultivation-related and human waste must meet certain standards as well. Finally, the boards will address cleanup, restoration, and mitigation of cannabis crop sites.

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