Testing Reduction Leads to Cannabis Recall
Written by Jon Russell
Edited by Maxwell Davis & Noah Persin
Testing bottlenecks have caused the cannabis industry in Oregon to grind to a virtual halt. Many in the industry have been asking the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for assistance in getting the industry moving again. In response, the OHA announced in early March, 2017, that they were taking input to potentially reduce the amount of testing required for cannabinoid products.
The Oregon Health Authority wants to reduce cannabis testing requirements. This could potentially lead to tainted cannabis entering the market. Some in the industry disagreed with the potential changes.
“It’s a complete evisceration of everything we put into place,” said Rodger Voelker of OG Analytical. Current reports claim that approximately 10 percent of cannabis flowers fail to meet state pesticide requirements; the fail rate for extracts and concentrates is about 26 percent. “It’s truly amazing,” says Voelker. “Let’s pick the worst problem we have and let’s make it go away by ignoring it.”
To make Voelker seem almost prophetic, this week the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) released a bulletin announcing a second product recall for recreational cannabis flower. Three batches of Blue Magoo flower grown by Emerald Wave Estate, LLC were transferred to Buds 4 U in Mapleton, Oregon and sold between March 8 – March 10th, 2017. Emerald Wave Estate flower is distributed in part by Cascade Cannabis Distribution. The recall is for levels of pyrethrins above the allowable levels.
Thankfully Buds 4 U caught the error but only after passing through both producer and distributor. This highlights an ongoing industry issue. There are those in the industry who would argue METRC’s seed-to-sale tracking system’s interface is not intuitive or user-friendly, which has begun to cause problems for many cannabis businesses. There is no way to view a visual lab, everything is text based; it would be great if pass or fail was in bold on the first page. Many aren’t trained well enough to be able to search through the system to ensure the packages they are transferring meet state requirements.
The first product recall occurred during the October transition from the medical to the recreational system. It occurred due to spinosad contamination of a batch of Marion Berry flower sold via New Leaf Cannacenter in McMinnville, Oregon.
As licensees we must be much more diligent in requesting physical labs from Producers. Producers, processors and distributors are responsible for ensuring the flower they are selling meets testing requirements. We also need to ensure the labs have entered a passing test into METRC before products are delivered.
We will continue to see these types of recalls happen as our industry develops and grows. We must exercise diligence to make sure the proper people are notified of failed test results as issues arise. This isn’t the first recall of cannabis and, with the new rule changes, it certainly will not be the last.
Read the full OLCC bulletin here.