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Oregon pot accreditation program on ‘verge of collapse’

PORTLAND — The administrator of a state program tasked with making sure marijuana labs are accredited said the Oregon Health Authority has ignored his pleas for resources and that the agency is “on the verge of collapse.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Gary Ward, administrator of the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, detailed the crisis facing the agency in a memo sent last week to the health authority. The accreditation division is a health authority program.

He said his agency, which also accredits labs that test drinking water, was initially assured resources to implement state-mandated cannabis testing accreditation, but “so far we have received zero” support from the health authority.

A health authority official said the agency would release a statement in response to Ward’s claims.

Starting Oct. 1, new products headed to marijuana dispensary shelves will have to be tested to assess potency and look for biological contaminants such as E. coli, residual solvents from the extraction process used to make oil, and dozens of pesticides.

The state’s new testing standards are intended to address pesticide contamination, which remains a concern in Oregon and in other states with legal pot markets.

Ward said all work on marijuana lab accreditation — as well as the agency’s work on drinking water — will stop without additional resources.

“The public health will be in jeopardy from potential drinking water problems and contaminated cannabis,” he wrote.

Beau Whitney, an economist and executive at Golden Leaf Holdings, a company that grows, processes and sells marijuana, worries producers will face a long wait to get their product into the legal market.

“It limits the ability of the market to grow,” he said