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Looking for undisclosed ingredients, additives, in wake of respiratory illness

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission last week gave the go-ahead for random testing of marijuana products for the presence of undisclosed ingredients and additives.

The commission approved the permanent rule for Audit, Compliance and Random Testing at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday.

OLCC staff recommended the testing approach in the wake of the 2019 EVALI respiratory illness outbreak.  That public health crisis resulted in the hospitalizations and deaths of hundreds of people known to vape nicotine and cannabis.  In Oregon, 22 people were afflicted with vaping-associated lung injuries, including two fatalities.

During the vaping crisis, OLCC took the position that specific additives suspected of being contained in nicotine and cannabis vaping products were adulterants and based on existing OLCC rules should not to be contained in marijuana products.

But the OLCC lacked specific authority to require random sampling and testing to detect adulterants and other contaminants in the marijuana products of licensees. The rule, which takes effect Monday, changes that. [OAR 845-025-5760]

The commission also approved a temporary rule related to the pre-licensing inspections of recreational marijuana license applicants, to align with the social distancing requirements of Governor Brown’s executive orders.

For the next six months, the OLCC will not require an in-person inspection by OLCC staff of a proposed licensed premises. This will reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by limiting contact between commission staff and license applicants. [OAR 845-025-1290]

“This is similar to the recent temporary change we made to our rules to allow licensed retailers to provide curbside delivery,” said Steve Marks, OLCC executive director. “We’re saying to the cannabis industry, we expect you to act responsibly, and applicants are expected to abide by all of the rules. If they do not, they will be subject to violations, and the OLCC will act quickly, in order to ensure public safety.’”

After four years of licensing Oregon’s cannabis industry, the commission said it “has greater confidence that licensees and license applicants are knowledgeable about OLCC regulations and can accept greater responsibility for meeting regulatory requirements.”

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