The opening of Nevada’s first medical marijuana dispensaries suffered another setback Wednesday — though perhaps a short one — when a state committee delayed adoption of pesticide rules.
At one point, the first dispensaries were expected to open in January. One shop in the Las Vegas area, Euphoria Wellness, held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday. Some testing labs are also ready to open.
But no dispensaries can sell marijuana to patients until it’s tested. And no labs can test the crop until the Independent Laboratory Advisory Committee makes recommendations on what standards to use.
The delays are frustrating people in the industry, along with marijuana card holders.
“The patient loses here, that’s the problem,” Todd Denkin, CEO of DigiPath Labs in Las Vegas, said after Wednesday’s public meeting of the lab committee.
Committee members said they need a legal ruling from the state attorney general before they can decide on pesticide standards.
Chairman Ed Alexander pointed to a regulation that says marijuana must meet “the most stringent acceptable standard for an approved pesticide chemical residue in any food item.” Read literally, Alexander said, that means marijuana could have no more pesticide residue than meat or milk, which should have almost none because they’re not exposed to pesticides directly.
Committee members said marijuana should be judged more like crops that are treated with pesticides, such as berries or lettuce, but they’re not sure if that would be legal.
Alexander said the committee is “very, very close” to recommending rules. State staffers promised to seek a legal ruling quickly on how the “most stringent” standard must be applied.
The lab committee is expected to have another meeting in about two weeks. It meets via video, with some members in Las Vegas and some, including the chairman, in Carson City.
Once they open, labs will test a sample from each 5-pound batch of marijuana for levels of cannabinoids, heavy metals and pesticide residue, among other things. The committee approved heavy metals standards Wednesday.
Alexander said the committee wants to help the state create rules that protect patients and also don’t burden the industry.
Though the delays are frustrating, Denkin said he hopes Nevada ends up with better standards than other states. He pointed out that Nevada already manages to regulate prostitution and gambling.
Contact Eric Hartley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.