Before a medicine is cleared for consumption by the public, it is tested to ensure it actually contains the ingredients it claims it does and at the levels it says it does. The law is no different for medical marijuana, with three cannabis-testing labs currently in operation in Ohio. Two others have also been licensed; however, they have not yet begun operating, as they fear handling a substance that is federally illegal might jeopardize federal grants and licenses.

These laboratories are quasi-regulators, tasked with informing cultivators and processors if their product can be sold or not. These private testing labs must operate independently from the dispensaries, operators and cultivators and are in the unique position of being private corporations working in the interest of public health.

The labs are running tests to ensure the marijuana is contaminant free. This is even more important since the recipients of the drug are people who already have a compromised immune system. Additionally, they are testing to make sure the consumers know what they are getting. This ensures they do not receive product that is above or below the advertised limit of THC.

One machine is used solely to test for mold and yeast ,and nine out of 10 samples failed this test. If a sample doesn’t meet the state’s standards for mold, it can still be sold as a dried flower but not as another product or be processed into an extract. The cultivator or manufacturer can see the lab results on a database and they often use the results to improve their product.

The cost of the mandatory testing is exorbitant for those growing smaller crops, as is the time associated with the tests. However, until changes are implemented, this is the system licensed manufacturers and operators have to deal with and they should understand the legal responsibilities they have with regards to medical marijuana testing.