Oklahoma lawmakers approve recommendations for medical marijuana testing standards

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma lawmakers on a legislative working group have unanimously approved recommendations for medical marijuana testing standards.

The goal of the 11-page proposal is to ensure medical marijuana products sold in dispensaries are safe, according to group co-chair Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada.

"We’re going to test it to make sure it doesn’t have poisons, pesticides and also test the potency of it," Sen. McCortney said. "Since it’s a medicine, just like any other medicine, you want to make sure it actually has the medicinal values you’re looking for."

The approved recommendations would require labels on products to state exactly what someone is buying. Testing requirements for concentrates and extracts, for example, state processors must test for "THC and CBD concentration, water activity and moisture content, residual pesticides, heavy metals..." among foreign materials, beginning May 15, 2019.

However, McCortney said products may be on shelves prior to May, meaning it's possible the first set of products will not be tested.

"Before these lab tests are put in place, any marijuana you buy in the state of Oklahoma is very much ‘use at your own risk’," McCortney said. "It very easily could have contaminants. It could have heavy metals. It could really harm you."

Chip Paul with Oklahomans For Health, the author of State Question 788 which legalized medical marijuana, said he was pleased with Wednesday's meeting.

"As much as people perhaps think we want this wide open, we really don’t. We want to protect consumer safety. This is a medical marijuana program. We’re uber concerned with everyone’s safety," Paul said. "The great thing is these guys (lawmakers) all want to do that right. We may not agree on everything as to what right is, and they may not agree to what right is, but they all want to do it right and they all want to respect our will and really how we voted on this issue."

Right now, Paul said there are seeds in Oklahoma's grounds.

"Where do you get seeds? I mean, you could find it on the internet," he said. "The agreement… at least in every meeting I’ve been in with the Department of Health and with these guys (lawmakers) has been just kind of a blind eye to seeds coming in until we get marijuana growing in the state. At some point in the future, we’ll have to say no seeds from outside, nothing."

Renee Harper, owner of the CBD specialty store Green Hope Wellness, said she is still considering her options of opening a separate medical marijuana dispensary. However, she said Wednesday's actions were a step in the right direction.

"I haven’t been anxious to go forth with that because it’s been so back and forth the entire time," Harper said. "It’s just a protection for people. If you’re going to consume something, you’d want it to be tested."

Ultimately, the recommendations would have to be approved by the Board of Health. A spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Department of Health told News 4 their next scheduled meeting is December; however, they could decide to schedule a special meeting any time prior to that if they want to take up the recommendations.