The Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) intends to stand up cannabis testing facilities, according to the agency’s notice on Licensing Analytical Laboratories for Sampling and Testing Medical Marijuana. The public has until the close of business on January 18, 2018 to submit comments on the new proposal, which will also add a new licensing fee of $5,000 per laboratory once the proposed rule becomes law. Comments should be submitted to Paula Pullano at the DOH at 3 Capitol Hill in Providence or by email at [email protected]

Currently, testing cannabis grow for such things as pesticides, metals, solvents and potency are left up to the state’s licensed cultivators and dispensaries. This added oversight will “establish minimum standards for licensing analytical laboratories to collect, sample, and analyze medical marijuana products cultivated and/or manufactured by registered compassion centers and licensed cultivators.”

The DOH reasons that the “key benefits” for the new licensed cannabis testing laboratories include the following as stated in the notice (link above):

  • Prevents conflict of interest between growers and testers of medical marijuana, which could lead to inaccurate testing by personnel who lack the appropriate expertise in testing, or misrepresentation of the content of medical marijuana by those parties who stand to gain from selling less potent products at a higher price.
  • Allows for patients to glean accurate information regarding cannabidiol (“CBD”) and tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) content, which helps mitigate the risks of patients mistakenly consuming medical marijuana products of unexpected potency, including potentially reducing the need for medical assistance due to such exposure.
  • Mitigates the risk of illness, incapacitation, or death caused by contaminants such as pesticides, metals, microbiological agents, or solvents.
  • Laboratory safety and security helps mitigate the risk of theft of marijuana, decreases costs associated with crime such as property damage and law enforcement costs, and prevents the diversion of medical marijuana into the black market (and the downstream effects of diversion, such as enriching criminal actors).

If you would like to discuss the rulemaking process, proposed law or other matters related to the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, please contact business attorney and PLDO Partner Benjamin L. Rackliffe at 401-824-5100 or email [email protected] Attorney Rackliffe is a leading authority on the program and has successfully assisted multiple Rhode Island cannabis license-holders through the regulatory process. We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.