OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Some Oklahoma marijuana processors are expressing concern that the state’s cannabis supply is often not up to par.

One processor in Choctaw said a few months ago, 90 percent of their product was failing inspection.

1440 Processing explains that a lot of the marijuana coming to them from marijuana growers fails to meet industry standards due to high levels of pesticides, heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals.

Late last year, they said 90 percent of cannabis they bought failed lab tests.

They report spending tens of thousands of dollars testing product on their own dime to ensure quality.

“Every single full panel test is, depending on your labs, anywhere from $200 to $500,” said senior analyst Dillon Stephens. “So, it starts to add up quite a bit. If we’re having every 50 pounds tested and we can run a couple of thousand pounds a week in this building, it really adds up fast.”

To get their fail rate down, 1440 significantly limited the number of growers they deal with – out of a pool of over 8,000 growers in the state. 

“It’s maybe at the 10 percent range now because most of the people that we invite back are people that we’ve vetted multiple times and we try not to waste our time with the people that constantly come back with more pesticides or heavy metals still in their material,” he said.

General Manager Chris Manovsky added that their concern isn’t only wasted money and time, but their consumers.

“They’re putting this product in their body,” he said. “We want to make certain that the products that we are putting out there are very clean and meet the standards, not only OMMA standards but 1440 standards.”

OMMA spokeswoman Kelsey Pagonis said they’re working on the issue of failed lab tests from growers’ product.

“We’ve had round tables for months now,” she said. “We’re working with several  different members from the industry, licensed labs, working with growers, processors and dispensaries to come up with that standard operating procedure because that’s something we do want to be able to provide growers.”

Pagonis said their legal power to enforce is limited.

“If we haven’t been given the direct authority by the Legislature to more harshly enforce rules, we have to work with what we’ve been given,” she said. “We can only enforce or create rules so far, that we have the extent to. If the Legislature has said that our testing guidelines and protocol and enforcement ends here then we have to end here. We can’t just add on further regulations. We are hopefully going to be able to get legislation in place, that way we’re able to promulgate rules so that we can create these standard operating procedures.”

They’re also working with law enforcement to crack down on the “bad actors” who are cutting corners for financial gain.

“We’ve developed relationships with Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and local law enforcement groups that already have that enforcement authority,” said Pagonis. “For us, it’s been a matter of determining where are the bad actors and what they doing and then we are referring those cases out to law enforcement.”

Pagonis reports OMMA currently has about 50 compliance inspectors, up from just 16 in May 2021. They plan get that number up to 90. They admit only half of the state’s more than 12,000 marijuana businesses have been inspected, but eventually want every single one to be inspected twice a year.