The Errl Cup is testing pot concentrates so that medical-marijuana customers know where they're getting the best products and where they're getting ripped off.
Free to all medical-marijuana cardholders, the event is set for January 9 in Tempe. It will feature a competition for best flower and concentrate, test results from secret shopping, and give out awards for best customer experience at dispensaries. The term Errl is slang for marijuana concentrates.
“In terms of medication, concentrates are a purer form of marijuana,” said organizer Jim Morrison. “All the media puts out is negative stories about people who don’t know what they’re doing...The stigma has to change. People take pills every day, and sometimes they die from them. Nobody has died from marijuana.”
Morrison also hopes to combat some of the stigma surrounding concentrates as medicine.
“No one understands[them],” he said. “We are bringing extractors to show their equipment. We are bringing people who do it and are respected in the industry to talk about it.”
Dispensaries entering the event had to agree to independent testing of their product, and Morrison said some were hesitant to participate.
“We wanted to find out what the public is getting,” Morrison said. “We are doing this to tell people where they should get their medicine, where they can save their money, and who’s screwing them and who’s not.
“We believed that there would be resistance in terms of dispensaries wanting to enter. The dispensaries don’t like what I’m doing because it shows that they’re not all telling the truth. Patients, on the other hand, love what I’m doing.”
Because of the resistance, event organizers gathered the samples.
“We went in and secret-shopped every dispensary in Maricopa County and random dispensaries from around the state,” Morrison said. “We covered all 26 dispensaries in Maricopa County and five others. That way we made sure that everybody was entered.
“I’m glad we’re doing it because I think it will give us a fair perspective on what’s going on.”
Awards will be given in 12 categories, three based on what was discovered during the secret-shopping, including best customer service, most knowledgeable, and best environment. Other awards include best flower, sativa and indicia, as well as best solvent and solvent-less concentrate.
Morrison said he interviewed all the testing companies in Arizona to independently test the samples.
“It’s a very fuzzy business; there’s no standards,” Morrison said.
Eventually, he chose C4 Laboratories, a testing company in Mesa, to analyze products purchased.
“They are part of the same association as Steep Hill Labs and, for that reason, we thought that they would be a little more credible,” he said.
Morrison said testing is imperative for a medicine that you put in your body, and he is appalled that testing is not mandatory in Arizona.
“If this were regular pharmaceuticals, people would be in an uproar,” he said. “Because it’s marijuana, there’s an attitude from some that testing isn’t important. This is a medication that saves peoples lives. People need to change the way they look at it.”
Tthroughout the process of putting together the event, Morrison said, he was shocked by the lack of compassion and safeguards dispensaries had for patients.
“We’ve purchased an eighth (3.5 grams of marijuana) at a dispensary that turned out to be a gram and a half short,” he said. “When we called the dispensary back to let them know, they told us we were liars.”
Some of the samples tested at half of the advertised potency, Morrison said.
These are the type of consumer-protection gaps Morrison said he hopes to change with this event.
“I got kind of bitter after doing this,” he said. “This stuff should be a part of basic customer service. We put this event together to help patients. People are getting taken advantage of, and nobody is regulating it.”
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Morrison said proceeds from the event will be divided between two charities, Meds for Vets and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, because he lost is sister to the disease two years ago.
Morrison said he plans to expand his patient-centric event philosophy to other states as well.
“This is kind of our beta test,” he said. “I did it here because I live here. It’s not about the money for us. We want to take this patient appreciation and dispensary accountability model to other markets, too. We want to educate patients and show them where to get the best medication.
“We want to go around and give people the information. We want to help them figure out who is doing it right.”