What are You Smoking? Introducing Marijuana Drug Safety Testing


You've probably heard of safety testing for food products or agriculture, but how about marijuana? Not far from Silicon Valley, a new cottage industry is forming to make cannabis safer for people with weak immune systems through forensic testing.

"It's very important because every other industry has some component of quality control testing, has regulations, has standards," says lab director Josh Wurzer of SC Labs in Capitola, California. "I think a lot of people are getting to the point where they're saying, 'Give us some sort of guidance.'"

An important fact about SC Labs customers is that they step up to have their products tested without any government agencies forcing them to do so. Why? Promising customers safety may make good business sense.

"We have several hundred clients across the state and these are dispensary owners or growers who do it voluntarily. And it's amazing to see the people who are voluntarily coming to us, paying a lot of money to have us test their medicine, some of which doesn't pass, just to ensure that the patients that they serve are as safe as possible," says Wurzer.

One of those patients was Norman Smith in Los Angeles, California. After being diagnosed with liver cancer, his oncologist at Cedars-Sinai hospital prescribed Smith marijuana, which Smith bought from a dispensary that had its cannibas tested at SC Labs. But after the transplant program at the hospital found out he was consuming marijuana, they delisted him from the transplant list, saying that he had engaged in substance abuse.

At the time, Cedars-Sinai told Reason TV that transplant patients who consume marijuana put themselves at potential risk of infection from a molds and fungi found in marijuana.

"It's safer than the spinach and lettuce that you eat," Smith explained to Reason TV. After being delisted Smith wasn't able to get a liver fast enough and died in 2012.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick. Shot by Zach Weissmuller.

Aproximately 4:09 minutes.

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