Colorado Adds Marijuana Fungus Testing Requirements

Jacqueline Collins
Commercial marijuana products in Colorado will soon be subject to further testing for dangerous fungus, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. In a bulletin recently sent to the state's marijuana industry, the MED announced that mycotoxins will be added to the microbial testing requirements for concentrates by September 15.

A toxic metabolite produced by fungi, mycotoxins colonize crops and can be found in various forms of mold. Symptoms that appear after consuming mycotoxins include coughing, wheezing, nose stuffiness and irritated eyes and skin — but mycotoxins can also cause severe respiratory damage, and are capable of giving animals and humans chronic, deadly diseases if consumed at high levels for long periods of time.
The new requirements will only be mandatory for batches of concentrate produced from marijuana plant material that already failed microbial testing.

If present in marijuana plant material during extraction, marijuana microbials and pesticides become exponentially more concentrated and dangerous. MED regulations allow a quarantine period for marijuana plant material that fails containment testings, and will permit the product to be sold or extracted if the mold, yeast or pesticide levels decrease to an acceptable parts-per-million level.

The mycotoxin requirement comes from a 2018 law that overhauled several marijuana business regulations. Currently, most state marijuana testing labs only look for e. coli and salmonella in marijuana concentrates that are extracted from previously quarantined plant material, with just one facility conducting mycotoxin testing over the past few months, according to MED spokewoman Shannon Gray. Now that the rest of the state's licensed marijuana labs have caught up, however, the state is ready to implement the mycotoxin testing requirement.

Commercial marijuana recalls over mold concerns have dramatically increased since 2017, going from virtually nonexistent to the leading cause for marijuana recalls over the past two years, surpassing banned pesticide use. In 2018, around 15 percent of Colorado's marijuana flower failed microbial testing — up from approximately 10 percent in 2017.