Thousands of patients in Hawaii will be celebrating after a private independent laboratory was given the green light to begin testing medical cannabis early this week.
As we mentioned last month, further delays to medicines being made available in Hawaii have resulted from the state’s Department of Health not having certified any laboratories for testing of products.
On Monday it was announced Steep Hill Hawaii, a laboratory on Oahu, could commence testing immediately.
Testing of products will be quite thorough, with cannabinoid profiles of medicines examined for potency and consistency, and importantly, the products will be screened for contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, pathogens, dangerous molds and the toxins they produce.
“This is a major step forward as it allows the dispensaries to now begin testing their products to sell to qualified patients,” said Keith Ridley, Chief of DOH’s Office of Health.
In a report published on HonoluluMagazine, state health department director Virginia Pressler defended the delays.
“I was recently talking to an officer in a state I won’t mention and they’re desperately trying to get control of their testing,” Pressler said. “They’re having real problems with their product’s purity. They don’t have the rules that we do.”
According to statistics from the Department, 17,591 patients were registered for the state’s program at June 30, 2017. However, with no approved products available, some were still seeking medicines where they could find them; running the risk of prosecution.
Hawaii’s State Laboratories Division team is also working with two other private independent labs to assist them in achieving certification. Certification involves the submission of validation studies to demonstrate competence, and laboratories must also meet accreditation standards of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
While patients on Oahu should have access to medicines from dispensaries reasonably soon, those on other islands may have to wait until their dispensaries open. Residents of other islands are unable to buy in Oahu and transport medical cannabis back over what are international waters; where federal regulations apply.
Another service being provided by Steep Hill to registered Oahu patientsl is testing of patients’ own personally cultivated marijuana, at a reasonable rate of $50. Hawaii patients are able to cultivate their own supply of medical marijuana (up to ten plants) at a designated location as long as they signalled that intent when registering.