Oregon Court of Appeals Halts Aspergillus Testing Requirement for Marijuana | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Oregon Court of Appeals Halts Aspergillus Testing Requirement for Marijuana

Oregon flower won't be required to be tested for the fungus — at least for now

With the annual outdoor harvest season nearly here, Oregon marijuana growers are breathing a sigh of relief about a recent ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals. On Aug. 25, the Oregon Court of Appeals granted a motion that effectively suspends the state's testing for marijuana for aspergillus, a common fungus. The ruling was first reported by Willamette Week.

click to enlarge Oregon Court of Appeals Halts Aspergillus Testing Requirement 
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In March, the Oregon Health Authority began requiring that marijuana producers test for four types of the Aspergillus fungus, along with heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. As the Source Weekly's contributor Josh Jardine reported in May, "Samples submitted are tested 'Pass/Fail' for any amount of Aspergillus, and not parts per million. Fail, and per the OHA, 'the batch may either be remediated using a sterilization process or be used to make a cannabinoid concentrate or extract if the processing method effectively sterilizes the batch, such as a method using a hydrocarbon solvent or CO 2 extraction system.' If a single sterilization attempt doesn't eliminate all traces of the Aspergillus, that crop must be destroyed." Sterilization of affected crops could cost companies thousands when hiring an outside service, or hundreds of thousands for purchasing the necessary equipment, Jardine wrote.

Oregon marijuana producers were not surprisingly dismayed by the new rule, and in July, the Cannabis Industry Alliance of Oregon and other companies sued the Oregon Health Authority and asked the court to intervene, saying the rule would do "irreparable harm" to the cannabis industry in Oregon.

While this week's decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals may be a relief, that relief may be temporary, as it only means that the rules cannot be enforced until the case is settled. Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe OHA may simply make a new rule that enforces similar requirements but are not subject to the Court of Appeals' stay, Willamette Week reported. The case will still move forward in the courts, with a full hearing to come.

There are roughly 180 species of Aspergillus, usually found outdoors in dead leaves, plants, soil and compost, as well as moist environments indoors. Most people breathe in the fungus every day, according to the Cleveland Clinic, but don't get sick. Aspergillus can cause allergic reactions or lung conditions in people with weakened immune systems or those with lung conditions, but thus far, OHA has not reported a case of anyone being sickened by inhaling the fungus through marijuana.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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