New testing requirements for the Aspergillus fungus are harming cannabis companies, the lawsuit claims.
In March 2023, the new Oregon Health Authority (OHA) cannabis testing requirements for four species of the Aspergillus mold took effect (1). All cannabis testing rules imposed by OHA apply to both recreational and medical cannabis sold in the state (2).
In late July 2023, the Cannabis Industry Association of Oregon (CIAO) and two cannabis cultivators–Southern Oregon Family Farms, and Cannassentials–filed an emergency motion to stop the enforcement of the new quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) compliance testing and METRC reporting (3). The motion explained that better testing requirements should be developed, as the current rules are inconsistent and costly (3). The main factors behind the lawsuit, according to a press release on the CIAO website, are scientific uncertainty, the prevalence of Aspergillus, legitimacy of testing, inconsistency of testing, and the financial impact (3).
“The rule has destroyed us, mostly because we have not had any time to prepare ourselves as testing was not available until right before the rule went into effect,” Myron Chadowitz, the president of Cannassentials said (1). “Experimenting in real time on flower that we need to sell, with processes no one really knows anything about does not make for a profitable company.”
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest member-based organization promoting safe access to medical cannabis, recently released a report detailing the effects of inconsistent testing on the health of medical cannabis patients, noting the effect of Aspergillus along with other contaminants (4). “In addition to sinus and lung infections, people who have weakened immune systems, including those who have recently undergone surgery, may also be susceptible to chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, which is a progressive and debilitating disease,” wrote ASA in their recent report, ‘Regulating Patient Heath: An Analysis of Disparities in State Cannabis Testing Programs,’ (4). “Cannabis is most often consumed via inhalation and, as such, contaminated products may result in the direct administration of Aspergillus spores into the lungs.”