Connecticut regulators’ proposed new mold standard for cannabis testing sailed past the Legislative Regulation Review Committee on May 24, establishing a 100,000 colony forming units per gram standard for cannabis products.
The change, which increases the total number of allowable mold cells, but specifically bans all Aspergillus strains, came under fire from medical patients.
“After patients have found mold-covered weed being sold in dispensaries, it’s clear patients are not being protected by current regulations,” wrote patient Josh Baldwin amid the regulatory approval process. “We need much stricter testing.”
The change, which was approved 12-1, reaffirmed the Department of Consumer Protections’ quiet approval of the change in standards in 2020, after cannabis lab AltaSci requested a more lenient standard.
Medical cannabis advocate Louis Rinaldi said that he was disappointed with the approval.
“I’d like to thank State Representative Christie Carpino (R-Portland), the lone LRRC member who stood with patients instead of out-of-state corporations and voted ‘No’ on this regulatory update,” he said. “I’d also like to remind patients that they can already grow at home legally, even though our state legislators seem to think we don’t deserve access to in-state cannabis laboratories to test our homegrown medicine.”
Originally both of the state’s cannabis labs used a threshold of 10,000 colony forming units per gram when testing flower for microbial. That testing standard matches Massachusetts, which already has an established adult use cannabis market.
“From our experience in other states, an action level of 100,000 is very high for raw cannabis, and is likely a sign that there was some major source of contamination during the cultivation process,” wrote Jill Elsworth, CEO of Willow Industries in a public comment submitted to the LRRC.
The state approved a request from AltaSci labs during the summer of 2020 to increase that allowable threshold to 1,000,000 cfu/g with Azeri tolerance for strains of aspergillus.
The state then presented the public with the opportunity to weigh on a testing standard of 100,000cfu/g amid public outcry over the previous quiet approval.
Despite approving the measure, Sen. James Maroney expressed caution about approving the regulation without considering further changes, especially as the state moves forward with legalized adult use cannabis.
“When the working group is formed, I think we also want to take a look at testing standards and making sure we are in line with what the trends are nationally and what other states are doing,” he said.
State Rep. Thomas Arnone suggested that the hard line against microbials was a mistake, considering that the stance might have previously prevented the discovery of penicillin’s medical benefits.
“I’m not a mold expert, I am a microbiological expert. I believe that broad spectrum herbicides are the wrong decision in any plant, whether it be marijuana, whether it be hemp, or whether it be flowers,” he said. “If we had killed broad spectrum mold back 100 years ago, we may not have had that wonderful discovery.”