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Board to recommend marijuana food safety standards

The Journal Record

August 9, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced the names of board members who will tackle the issue of ensuring food quality for edible cannabis and clarified what their mission is.

Oklahoma already has established standards for food manufacturing, processing and delivery. Now that State Question 788 passed, another category will appear: foods infused with cannabis. Although prototypical products such as brownies and gummy candies may come to mind, producers can create and sell a sprawling variety of foods. Health officials will be tasked with ensuring those products are safe to consume.

The new standards will likely enhance existing ones, said Buffy Heater. Heater is an Oklahoma State Department of Health executive team member and is overseeing the implementation of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

“There is already a body of literature out there that is the starting-off point for the board,” she said.

State Question 788 required the department to appoint an advisory board full of experts to help draft food safety policy regarding products that contain marijuana compounds as an additive. Producers create additives by placing ground marijuana in an oil, alcohol or other solvents, allowing the solvent to extract the psychoactive compound THC and then straining the marijuana out of the mixture.

The law requires health officials to appoint a board of 12 Oklahoma residents, who are marijuana industry experts, to create a list of food safety standards for processing and handling medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

“Considering medical marijuana is a brand-new industry in Oklahoma, we’ve had some challenges being able to find folks that meet all of those requirements,” Heater said.

The board includes a food safety professor, poison control specialist, environmental quality official, patient advocate and public health officials, as well as a marijuana industry representative.

Board member Bud Scott is the executive director of New Health Solutions Oklahoma, a cannabis trade organization. He said that in addition to representing the industry, he can act as a connector to members of his organization, who can be tapped for information.

“One of the things that I’ve worked for years are food clients,” he said.

His organization has been studying standards that other states have implemented for their own cannabis products.

Other members selected include Becky Johnson, pharmacist; Ravirajsinh Jadeja, assistant professor of food safety, Oklahoma State University; Scott Yates, supervisor of meat and poultry inspection, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Scott Schaeffer, managing director, Oklahoma Poison Control; Fenton Rood, assistant director of land protection, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality; Mark Woodward, public information, education officer and legislative liaison, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs; Ray Jennings, patient advocate; Kara Burst, executive officer, business sustainability and auxiliary services, Department of Commerce, Chickasaw Nation; Edd Rhoades, medical director, Oklahoma State Department of Health; Troy Skow, consumer protection administrator, Oklahoma City-County Health Department; and Travis Splawn, field supervisor, Tulsa Health Department.

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