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Arizona state bill seeks to add safety tests for medical marijuana

FILE - In this June 17, 2015 file photo, medical marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

PHOENIX — A new bill in the Arizona State Legislature would require medical marijuana products to undergo safety tests.

Senate Bill 1420 would require the Arizona Department of Agriculture to test for various chemicals, including pesticides. The testing would be paid for with $2 million from the state’s medical marijuana fund, which currently has about $35 million available.

Under the bill, the Arizona Department of Health Services would also set up testing to ensure the marijuana products are free of mold and other chemicals.

State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, a Republican representing Lake Havasu City, said his bill isn’t meant to hurt the medical marijuana industry.

“We want to make sure that the patients and customers are getting well-protected and well-informed on what they’re getting because, after all, it’s supposed to be a medicine – let’s treat it as a medicine,” he said.

Borrelli’s bill would also lower the $150 annual fee to get a medical marijuana card to $50. It has about 80 co-sponsors, including Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate, and has the support of at least one local pro-medical marijuana industry group.

Demetri Downing, founder of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association, said he doesn’t oppose additional regulations as long as they are “sensible.”

“When there’s good testing, good packaging requirements but also improvements for patients and patient access and patent safety, you have to look at it and say, ‘We cannot just stay our ground and oppose everything,’” he said.

Downing added the bill would ultimately be a “win for Arizona” because it would add safeguards to protect consumers.

The bill is scheduled to have its first committee hearing on Wednesday.

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