Downtown Presque Isle, Me, in 2006. The state OCP will hold a hearing in the modern version of the town on October 12 . The name means “almost island”, but it’s pretty far from a big body of water. Credit: Elizabeth Punches / Flickr

Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy is suggesting a rule update that loosens some of the lab testing requirements to reduce redundant testing, just in time for the start of OCP’s public forum series throughout the state to get feedback on new rule making in general.

A significant change in the proposed rules would eliminate redundant tests for cannabis products. Under the old rules, cured flower would have to be tested, before it could be turned into a concentrate, which would also have to be tested, and if those concentrates were then used to create a new product, such as edibles, they would then have to be tested once again before it could legally be sold to consumers.

Products will no longer have to be tested for residual solvents if no solvents were used in the process of making the underlying concentrate, or if that concentrate had already successfully passed a test for solvents.

Edibles will also no longer be bound by the strict 10 mg limit for individual servings. Labs will now allow a 10% variance for THC levels, while also allowing for an additional 5% variance to account for lab errors. In the event that a total package of edibles is tested, that initial variance will only be 5%, with the additional 5% for lab errors.

Manufacturers also have a little more leeway with edible batches that fail the homogeneity test. The state requires that multiple samples from the same batch of edibles be tested to ensure that there is not more than a 15% difference in THC concentrations.

Under the old rules, a failed batch must be destroyed, but now the manufacturer will have the option to remediate the batch and have it retested.

The state also requires that flower not pass a threshold of 10,000 colony forming units per gram, with concentrates being held to a 1,000 CFU/g standard. In both cases, failed batches can be remediated.

Producers will not be allowed to remediate failed tests for pesticides or heavy metals, but they will be allowed to retest instead of automatically having to destroy the batch.

The state also standardized the allowable levels of detected pesticides in cannabis products. Prior to that, the individual lab would get approval from the state for the testing limits it deemed as appropriate. Along with the new requirement for pesticide testing, producers will only have to test flower for pesticides, instead of also testing concentrates from plant matter that had previously been tested already.

On a technical note, most of the changes to existing regulation was replacing the term “marijuana” with “cannabis,” as per the recent state law mandating the change.

The proposed rules were released June 21, while the OCP held its first public forum of the series on June 22 in Biddeford.

Subsequent meetings will take place in Waterville on July 20, Bangor on August 24, Ellsworth on September 14 and Presque Isle on October 12. All of the meetings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and are expected to last about 90 minutes.

The new rules came after two years of unsuccessful attempts to update the state’s medical cannabis market that would have instituted mandatory lab testing and seed tracking of all medical cannabis. Those proposals proved unpopular and the OCP backed away from them last spring amid outcry from medical cannabis patients and caregivers.

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...