The medical marijuana industry in Florida is still in its infancy and so are the rules around it.
“Right now, there is no guarantee that the medicine people are getting is put up against the strictest standards,” said Cynthia Brewer, Director of Operation and Sales at EVIO Labs.
Rules by the Department of Health only state cannabis has to be tested and declared safe for human consumption, but there are no specific guidelines.
Aside for some regulations on potency, there are no specific guidelines.
Tested for what exactly and by who?
Those details matter to patients like 69-year-old Linda Williams. Williams said before she switched to cannabis she used to take around 10 pills a day.
“Gabapentin, Amitriptyline, muscle relaxers, Imitrex,” Williams said. “It did not really help me. It gave me severe side effects.”
Then she tried cannabis a year ago.
“I’m pain free when I use it, I can sleep, I don’t have the anxiety,” Williams said. “It saved my life.”
Now she wants to make sure what she takes is safe.
“Until regulations are released by the DOH, patients are in control of the safety of their medicine,” Brewer said. “Is their medicine going to make them sicker, or not?”
EVIO Labs, Florida’s first ISO accredited lab, is taking the testing of cannabis seriously.
“We test here with the same expectations of ourselves and same limits that we set for ourselves as you would in big pharma,” said Nicolas Mattingley, Associate Lab Director at EVIO.
Every state that allows medical marijuana has different standards.
“Colorado, they test for less than 10 pesticides,” Mattingley said. “Here we’re going to exceed (testing for) 60 pesticides.”
Florida's medical marijuana treatment centers like Trulieve are holding themselves accountable, sending their products to third-party labs like EVIO and having it tested for residual solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, micro toxins, micro biology, and then also verified potency.
Those in the industry want guidelines.
“Having those standards is very important,” said Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve. “I think Florida should have some of the strictest, if not the strictest standards in the country.”
Standards so that patients like Williams know exactly what they’re getting.
The DOH is currently working on establishing exact rules for medical marijuana testing.
Patients can ask their dispensary for testing details.