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Tue, Jan. 28

Editorial: Marijuana industry should police itself

Marijuana plants fill one of the greenhouses, in 2015, at the Sun King Labs marijuana grow house in Chino Valley. (Courier file photo)

Marijuana plants fill one of the greenhouses, in 2015, at the Sun King Labs marijuana grow house in Chino Valley. (Courier file photo)

In 2016, marijuana for personal use failed to pass in Arizona, with 51.32 percent of voters saying “no.” Voters barely allowed “medical marijuana” in 2010, with 50.13 percent giving approval.

Thus, it is safe to say about half of the population does not like marijuana. Why then should everyone pay for the testing of it?

Senate Bill 1420, recently approved by the state Senate and now goes to the full House, would test what is being sold at state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries. What the state would be looking for includes mold, disease-causing bacteria and “other harmful adulterants,” according to Capitol Media Services.

Basically, state lawmakers are wanting to ensure medical marijuana patients know what they are getting, or are getting what they paid for.

In discussion surrounding SB 1420 we see the assumption, even implication, that the state would or should do the testing.

We are not in favor of creating a new testing arm of the state government – call it another department or more bureaucracy – at the expense of the state or its taxpayers.

The pharmaceutical industry pays the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. This is why drug companies say they must charge so much for each pill. Logic says the producers of marijuana, either the suppliers or the dispensaries, should be responsible for testing their product.

Contacting Sheila Polk, Yavapai County attorney, confirmed this – and more.

“Marijuana, whether recreational or medicinal, is illegal under federal law. SB 1420 would require the state to test a product that is illegal under federal law. I think it is bad public policy for the state to actively participate in violations of federal law through the testing of medical marijuana,” she said Tuesday.

The FDA exists to ensure the safe delivery of medicine. Yet, “the proponents of medical marijuana bypassed the FDA’s complex system that provides for testing of medicines. Now they want the state to do what the FDA does for other medicines.”

Further, we agree with Polk that this law would expose the State of Arizona to significant liability.

The medical marijuana industry should regulate itself, she said. “Why can’t they test their products themselves? Why do they want the state to get involved and pay for the testing?”

Probably because marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

But, don’t think for a second the marijuana industry cannot afford to pay for its own testing.

As of mid-2017, Colorado “harvested” nearly one billion dollars in taxes and fees since marijuana’s approval there. While what Arizona collects from marijuana pales in comparison – since here we do not allow recreational use – the medical marijuana grow/dispensary owners are running very profitable businesses.

The onus should be on the marijuana industry, while the state should instead be providing for our children’s educations.

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