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California pot czar expects lag time for testing newly legal weed

The state has put out new rules for testing marijuana planned for medical use.

With businesses expected to get state licenses in January to sell marijuana in California, the top regulator said Thursday that they will be given up to six months to comply with a requirement the pot be thoroughly tested by a licensed laboratory.

State pot czar Lori Ajax said it may take months for enough testing labs to be properly screened and licensed to handle the supply of marijuana expected to be sold in California starting next year. In addition, many existing medical marijuana dispensaries will have untested supplies when licensing begins, she said.

As a result, dispensaries and shops that can’t get testing that complies with state standards will be allowed to continue selling products for up to six months as long as they are labeled untested, Ajax said during a conference on marijuana sponsored by Capitol Weekly in Sacramento.

“Day one we are not going to have all the testing labs licensed at once, and they are going to need time to get all their testing procedures in place to test under the very stringent requirements we have in the regulations,” Ajax said.

In addition, she said some testing labs will have to be issued provisional licenses to operate while they go through an 18-month process of being certified by a joint technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission.

“We don’t want everything to come to a screeching halt when we start issuing [sales] licenses,” Ajax said. “We want to make sure that supply chain still flows.’’

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks to California Newspaper Publishers Assn. members in Santa Monica on Thursday morning. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times) Detectives last month seized roughly 40 pounds of marijuana, approximately 181 cans of butane, three large tubes used for extraction and about 2 ounces of "honey oil" from a Glendale home. A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton). (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call) House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield).