Hey, we’re not above a little bit of home state pride: we’re pretty sure that the cannabis grown here in the Evergreen State comes from the freshest, cleanest, best-cared-for plants anywhere in the world.
But on a more objective note, the safeguards and standards put forth in Washington Initiative 502 are among the most forward-looking and comprehensive in the country. And as we noted in an earlier blog, the passage of Bill 5131 moves the game even further ahead by kickstarting the process of assessing cannabis quality from seed to flower with a model based on the Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
By adopting a food-based approach—or perhaps more appropriately, one based on wine?—the state recognizes cannabis in the same way most consumers do: as a high-value agricultural product, deserving of the same quality protections we subject our food and beverages to.
What Are Labs Looking For?
State law mandates that all cannabis offered for sale be tested by a third-party laboratory, and this oversight is widely touted as being one of the chief advantages of a legal, well-regulated cannabis industry.
Testing for mold and other contaminants was factored into the original recreational cannabis law of 2012, Washington Initiative 502. The requirement for mold testing is significant, as it’s often difficult to detect visually and can have serious health impacts on consumers.
Then, after a lengthy period required to settle on an effective testing protocol, the state stepped up its pesticide-testing regimen in 2016. Widely hailed in the cannabis industry, the program is still in a ramping-up mode, but already seen as putting an effective chill—as opposed to “chill out”—on growers tempted to use illegal pesticides.
The Consumer Impact
Of course, all these protections come at a price, and Washington State imposes a 37% charge structured as a sales tax (it should be pointed out that Washington has no actual sales tax, so this surcharge is especially significant).
This means that legal weed, at least for the time being, is pricier than that found on the street. If the illegal marijuana industry has any hope of survival, this is the only real leverage it possesses, and there are plenty of examples that legalization hasn’t completely shuttered the black market.
Advocates of legalization are taking the long view that over time, the price of legal weed will continue to drop, making the surcharge for buying illegal less of motivation for buyers on the fence. And if the wave of legalization on the national front, fewer states where cannabis is illegal means fewer states where illegal growers can make a handsome profit on smuggled cannabis.
A Personal Dedication to the Best Weed
Particularly at this early stage, as state testing and regulation protocols are in their infancy, many of the decisions about cannabis cleanliness and purity are being made where the rubber hits the road: in dispensaries.
Just as we’ve seen in the food-and-wine world, some operations are distinguishing themselves with a qualitative approach to cannabis, testing their cannabis over and above state guidelines to ensure the safety and good health of their products. It’s an involved and expensive procedure in and of itself, but we’re pleased to see that, by and large, the marketplace has responded with overwhelming positivity. It may just be what makes Washington cannabis the best in the world.