How will you know if there’s E. coli in your marijuana? No one’s figured out how to test and regulate it yet.

Most Americans live in states that permit some people to sell, buy and consume cannabis, despite ongoing federal prohibition. Twenty-six states have medical marijuana programs, and nine states explicitly allow recreational cannabis — though cannabis storefronts haven’t opened yet in all of them.

And each election cycle, voters expand the number of states that allow marijuana possession and use. Apart from Vermont, where legislators passed a limited law legalizing use, states have changed their marijuana laws by popular ballot initiatives. To most voters, initiatives offer a binary, yes/no question: legalize it or not?

But behind that lie a host of regulatory follow-up questions — including questions of how the product’s potency, consistency and safety should be regulated. Of course, black-market producers do not test marijuana for contaminants or offer potency labels for their consumers. Presumably, states will want to do more.


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