Officials in Colorado and Washington state, which recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana, are struggling to devise health and safety rules for the drug.
NBC News reports they must consider ways to prevent problems ranging from mold, mites and pesticide residue, to salmonella, E. coli and other safety risks.
Federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are not involved in these discussions, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That means state officials must draw up an entirely new government structure for overseeing the production and sale of marijuana.
“It’s important for us to do it because it’s public safety and there’s no U.S. FDA oversight here,” said Randy Simmons, the Washington State Liquor Control Board project manager in charge of implementing the state’s marijuana law. “Things that would be FDA rules don’t exist.”
Washington must issue licenses to produce, process and sell marijuana by December 1. In Colorado, marijuana sales are scheduled to begin in January. Neither state law specifically addresses public health issues involved in marijuana production. Experts say new rules will have to provide ways to detect impurities and confirm the strength of marijuana’s active ingredients.