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Challenges of Accurately Testing Marijuana Potency Highlighted in New Report


June 27, 2018
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - The data validation report recently released by the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office and the Department of Environmental Conservation–Division of Environmental Health describes some of the challenges associated with accurately testing marijuana for potency. The report also offers recommendations for possible revisions to Alaska Administrative Code regulations to improve the oversight and quality assurance activities of licensed marijuana testing facilities.

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“The comparative study conducted by the Environmental Health Laboratory provides additional information for the board-convened testing working group to consider,” said Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.

McConnell said, “We are encouraged by the work that has already been done by the industry and public health officials as part of the working group. I am confident this report will help the working group accomplish their mission to offer some solid recommendations to the Marijuana Control Board that will give consumers confidence in the system; protect public safety, health, and welfare; and allow the industry to move forward in a way that is also good for licensed establishments.”

The data validation compared the results of several sample tests of cannabis and cannabis products from two licensed marijuana testing facilities. The samples were analyzed using different extraction protocols for potency but similar analytical techniques. The report provides insight into how the two facilities could be testing the same product but come up with different results.

The testing working group, convened by the Marijuana Control Board in late 2017, is developing recommendations for improving testing accuracy and clarity of the marijuana testing regulations. The first round of recommendations was reviewed by the Marijuana Control Board during its meeting June 13-15, 2018 in Anchorage.

Should the board decide to move forward with any of the recommendations, the public will have the opportunity to submit comments on the proposed regulations changes during a 30-day public comment period. Draft marijuana regulations currently under review or open for public comment can be viewed on the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office website.

Alaska voted to legalize commercial marijuana in November of 2014. The initial set of regulations went into effect on February 21, 2016. To date, the Marijuana Control Board has approved licenses for 62 operating retail stores, 133 operating cultivators, 11 operating product or concentrate manufacturers, and two operating marijuana testing facilities.

According to the Alaska Economic Trends' May 2018 (PDF) issue published by the Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska collects tax when marijuana is transferred or sold to retail or manufacturing facilities. Flower, the highest value part of the plant, is taxed at $50 per ounce while leaves and trim (used in manufacturing food and concentrates) is taxed at $15 per ounce.

Four businesses paid the industry's first taxes in October 2016, contributing $10,406 combined. Tax revenue has increased nearly every month since, topping $1 million in January 2018. In all, the marijuana industry generated $8.3 million in taxes in its first 17 months, not including any local sales taxes. Ketchikan, for example, has a 7.5 percent sales tax. in other areas, Fairbanks does not collect a sales tax, and while Anchorage doesn't either, Anchorage imposes an additional 5 percent excise tax on marijuana sales.

In 2017, the Alaska marijuana industry paid $8.5 million in wages.


On the Web:

Data Validation Report: Laboratory Result Comparision
Alaska Environmental Health Laboratory - Prepared for Alcohol Marijuan Control Office

Alaska Economic Trends May 2018 - Marijuana: A new industry (PDF)



Reporting and Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



Source of News:

Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Developmentthe

Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development

Alcohol Marijuan Control Office



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