Department of Public Health

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Too Restrictive? Marijuana Labs Raise Concerns About Mass. Lead Regulations

The state’s first medical marijuana dispensary is expected to open in Salem later this month. But it may not have any actual dried marijuana for sale.

The main problem: lead.

“To date, every sample of cannabis that we have tested for heavy metals, particularly lead, would fail the existing regulations  TWEET ,” said Chris Hudalla, the chief scientific officer at ProVerde Laboratories, one of two marijuana testing facilities in Massachusetts.

Hudalla says there is no question that elevated lead levels would be dangerous for patients. But he claims the state standard is too restrictive and unrealistic. It is based on the assumption that patients will ingest 1 ounce a day — much more than most patients would reasonably use.

The amount of lead allowed in Massachusetts (212 parts per billion) is nearly 14 times lower than Connecticut and almost 50 times lower than what’s permitted by Colorado. Continue reading

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DPH’s Auerbach Resigns Amid Lab Scandal

Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach has resigned, according to the Patrick administration. (Photo: Office of Gov. Deval Patrick)

This just in from State House News Service:

Amid a crime lab scandal, Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach has resigned, according to a Patrick administration official. Auerbach offered his resignation over the weekend and Gov. Deval Patrick accepted it on Monday. Auerbach is expected to remain on for a transitional period, according to the administration official.

Last Thursday, state officials announced that the bureau chief of the now shuttered state Jamaica Plain crime lab at the center of a controversy over the alleged mishandling of drug samples had resigned, a previously suspended lab director had been fired and the Patrick administration had begun “discharge proceedings” against a third crime lab supervisor.

Patrick administration officials are juggliing a crisis centering on more than 60,000 drug samples that may have been tainted by a rogue chemist leading to the shakeup. Lab Bureau Chief Dr. Linda Han resigned on Wednesday.

The director of the analytical chemistry division at the Department Public Health, Dr. Julie Nassif, was fired her role in a massive tampering case that Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby attributed in part to lax oversight and an “unacceptable delay” in notifying superiors. Continue reading