By Patricia Rosi
When an organization produces as much product and serves as many people as we do every day, quality control could not be more important. Earlier this week, one of our self-imposed quality control methods was put to work.
Let’s back up. Cannabis is not an approved drug or medicine in the U.S. under federal law. Therefore, there are no standard, generally accepted levels of naturally-occurring microorganisms in dried marijuana plants. The day will come when all cannabis products will need to be tested under a state or national regulatory scheme, but until that happens, the Wellness Connection of Maine believes it’s best to test our products; it is the responsible thing to do for our members.
Although it is not state-mandated, WCM began testing its products through a third party about six months ago to ensure the best quality product for our members. We chose to take this step so that our members would know exactly what they are getting each time they enter our doors.
Last week, during our standard quality control procedures, we received inconclusive test results on a small portion of a harvest. Based on our self-imposed guidelines, we immediately issued a voluntary recall due to a higher than usual level of microbes.
We’ve not received any complaints. And frankly, microbes are everywhere and typically harmless. You are breathing them right now. But because there is simply a chance that higher levels of microorganisms could grow into something we wouldn’t want patients ingesting, we decided to voluntarily pull the product.
What does this mean? This means our internal regulating system works. We were able to identify a potential problem and alert our members immediately. This makes us the minority in the business of medical marijuana providers. One day, the testing protocols we voluntarily chose to implement internally will be standard regulatory requirements for the industry. Maine does not require lab testing for potency or contaminates in medical cannabis products.
In the last legislative session, the Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed a bill (LD 1059), drafted by WCM, which would have licensed labs to test medical cannabis. However, the Governor vetoed the bill, and the Senate failed to override the Governor.
Until then, we are operating business-as-usual. In any industry that grows and sells consumable products, there will always be the potential for unusual levels of naturally occurring microorganisms. These are things we can’t always control.
But what we can control is how we monitor and test our product – and how quickly we act. Out of an abundance of caution, we established a process, and this week, we learned that it works.
Patricia Rosi is CEO of the Wellness Connection of Maine (WCM), the state’s largest group of medical cannabis dispensaries. Under her leadership, WCM’s staff has grown from 20 to more than 60 employees in four years, and serves over 10,000 qualified patients per year. Originally from France, Rosi has lived in Maine for nearly two decades. Previously at Pierce Promotions, she grew a 35-employee Maine agency into a 200-employee, nationwide powerhouse. She is a visionary leader who fuses creative, commercial and corporate capital to achieve results.