The Cannabis industry needs science
. One state after another has had to struggle with building a safe and regulated new agricultural industry. Because of the historical restrictions on Cannabis research, and the lack of guidance from federal agencies, state regulators have had to rely on educated guesses about public health issues such as pesticide testing, microbiology testing, and laboratory standards. The Cannabis Safety Institute is composed of a large group of scientists and policy-makers who have come together to provide the scientific background needed to ensure that the Cannabis industry grows in a way that is safe and sustainable.

White Papers

Pesticide use on Cannabis is extraordinarily widespread, but also entirely unregulated. Federal pesticide laws make it clearly illegal for most pesticides to be used on anything other than the precise crops they have been registered for. With a group of academic and industrial toxicologists we have assembled a list of natural pesticides that we hope will protect the consumer while at the same time giving growers the tools they need to grow healthy crops in a legal manner. We also specify a list of reasonable testing targets for Cannabis testing labs.

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A comprehensive document covering every possible microbiological organism of concern on Cannabis, written with a large group of plant scientists and food-safety microbiologists from McGill University, Duke University, and Harvard Medical School. Special emphasis is placed on the only serious pathogen associated with Cannabis smoking: Aspergillus.

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Heavy metals can be present in soil, especially in areas of the country where there was intensive historical pesticide use. They can also originate with poorly manufactured fertilizer products. Cannabis has been shown to concentrate trace metals in its flowers and leaves, but this has not been tested with the metals of concern in the US. As of now, there is no evidence that the common toxic heavy metals – arsenic, chromium, cadmium, and several others – are found in Cannabis at significant levels. In collaboration with research groups around the country we are working to assemble definitive data on this question, but currently we recommend that state regulations do not require batch-testing of Cannabis for heavy metals. In areas where this might be a concern, direct environmental testing is a much more appropriate and effective approach.

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Cannabis safety testing is now a significant industry in this country, but it lacks the regulatory structures that any other type of lab testing would be subject to. The goal of this white paper is to provide a framework for that structure that is straightforward for states to implement and manage, and will guarantee that testing results are consistent and reliable. Co-authors include Peter Unger, the Chair of ILAC (the international body that accredits the national agencies that themselves accredit testing labs), and Farukh Khambaty, a microbiologist with many years of experience directing safety programs at both the FDA and the NIH.

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