Arizona might finally pass bill for lab testing to ensure medical cannabis is free of contaminants


Annureet Kaur

Republican lawmaker Sen. Sonny Borrelli was able to convince majority of the Legislature to sign his initiative to require lab testing to ensure medical cannabis is free of mold and contaminants.

The proposal would require over $2 million dollars to do the testing, which is a small fraction of the state’s huge medical cannabis fund. The fund already has over $35 million available and is growing every year, because of the high patient fees and low costs of regulating the program.

Sen. Borrelli told ABC 15 News he wants to ensure patients know what they are consuming with their cannabis.

“Customers need to know what’s going on with this stuff they are buying that they are convinced that it’s going to help them,” Borrelli said. “We want to make sure that they understand that it’s not as pure and organic as they think it is.”

While Borrelli already has support from 78 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors from the House and Senate, the bill will require three-fourths of the Legislature vote of 90 members to go into effect.

The proposal would require the Arizona Department of Agriculture to test medical cannabis for pesticides and other chemicals. The Health Services Department would set up testing for cannabis potency and to ensure it’s free of mold, all with money sitting in the $35 million fund.

Along with lab testing on medical cannabis to ensure it’s free of contaminants and mold, the proposal also intents to decrease  medical cannabis permit fee, which can cost a patient over $150, with a renewal fee of another $150 yearly.

An Arizona judge initially tossed a lawsuit in 2016 for high patient fees after patients argued that the fees were set at a considerably high amount than what voters had intended when they passed the 2010 proposal to legalize medical cannabis sales. But, Borrelli’s proposal would amend the voter-approved law to decrease patient fees and make cannabis lab testing a requirement.

Rep. Mark Cardenas who worked with Borrelli to negotiate the proposal told ABC 15 News that the current costs for medical cannabis license are a barrier for low-income patients to receive treatment.

Borrelli claims lowering the fee substantially by at least a hundred dollars.

“It’s kind of hard for even the department to justify sitting on (nearly) $40 million,” he said. “So $50 is reasonable, a renewal fee of $25 is very reasonable.”