Michigan marijuana may be contaminated with mold, testing labs warn

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Marijuana for sale in Michigan is contaminated with mold and yeast, a group of cannabis testing labs is warning. 

Moreover, the state is no longer allowing a specific marijuana testing method.

But the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association said Wednesday it disagrees with the lab group's findings, saying the state's move to pause one of the methods to test for contaminants was made "out of an abundance of caution," but "there's no evidence" the pot is actually tainted.

"From our perspective, there has not been any indication there is contaminated product in the system," said Robin Schneider, the association's executive director. The issue, she added, is an "ongoing scientific debate" and not a public safety matter.

Because lab tests were not done with regulatory oversight, the results are questionable, Schneider said. 

Pot contamination is a serious concern. Pathogenic microorganisms on cannabis can be harmful if inhaled, especially if taken as a medicinal product by a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy who may have a weakened immune system. 

Last year, state regulators recalled marijuana products sold at dispensaries in Detroit and Kalamazoo after the products failed lab tests for mold and bacteria, and in Lansing because of chemical contamination. 

The Michigan Information & Research Service reported that Ben Rosman, the founder of the Michigan Coalition of Independent Cannabis Testing Laboratories, said there is "a ton of contaminated cannabis" on the shelves.

He said his lab, PSI Labs in Ann Arbor, has tested and found tainted pot. 

Rosman, when reached late Wednesday by the Free Press, said his lab has been testing cannabis since 2015. He said his lab has conducted studies for 8 to 12 months, and found traces of mold had not been detected by one of the state tests.

He said that the disallowed test resulted in false negatives, which means moldy pot passed the test. 

Rosman said the group was successful in urging the state to disqualify the qPCR method, which was a positive step, and would like the industry and state to educate consumers about potential contamination dangers and sign a consent waiver.

He said he does not believe more stringent cannabis testing is necessary.

"You want safe, quality product on the shelves," he said.

The state Marijuana Regulatory Agency, however, had little to publicly say about the issue.

"There is no product recall at this time," the agency said in an email to the Free Press. "As always, any consumer should report any adverse reaction to any marijuana product to the retail location and/or the MRA."

The agency added in its email that the letter it sent last week disallowing the use of what is called a qPCR to test for mold was "in response to the ongoing validation of test methods for total yeast and mold; it is not related to specific test results."

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