Oregon's First Cannabis RECALL

Oregon's First Cannabis RECALL

By Zack Shrigley

     The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued the first recall in connection with recreational cannabis last March, after the retail outlet Buds 4 U noticed a failing result in their system. The red flags were set off by a test result regarding an unsafe pesticide level attached to a nine pound batch of their vendors’ products.  
     Thebrick and mortar storefront had already sold 82.5 grams of contaminated bud to 31 of its customers by the time an employee noticed the warning attached to their Blue Magoo flower in the tracking system. Upon realizing levels of the pesticide Pyrethrin surpassed safe levels set by the state, Bud 4 U immediately contacted the OLCC. The OLCC went on to issue a public statement to notify clientele who purchased flowers over a two-day period between March 8 and March 10.

     “Consumers who have these recalled products should dispose of the products or return them to the retailer where they were purchased.
     Contaminated packaging is labeled:
 1A4010300005B05000000772
– product name: Blue Magoo
1A4010300005B05000000769
– product name: Blue Magoo
1A4010300005911000000005
– product name: Blue Magoo'

     There are procedures in place that identify failing samples before they ever hit the marketplace. The procedures, however, are not redundant and one person forgetting to make an accurate recording can result in a worst case scenario: customers obtaining and ingesting unsafe products. In this case, fault fell directly on the producer, Emerald Wave Estate LLC. According to an OLCC press release, Emerald Wave Estate LLC shipped processed cannabis to Buds 4 U before results were entered the system. As a result, the contaminated cannabis made its way through the supply chain and was distributed normally.
     The failure by Emerald Wave Estate LLC to keep accurate records resulted in a Class III violation under to state law. The first Class III violation against a registered business is punishable by up to 10 days of closure and a $1,650 fine. Four perpetual violations within a two-year period will lead to license revocation and forfeiture of the permit to operate.
Setting allowable pesticide levels is a nebulous undertaking for individual states because cannabis is still illegal under federal law. When safety is not standardized at the federal level, the responsibility for setting limits for allowable contaminants falls on individual states. This self-regulation give state-based industries duties that are normally reserved for the FDA and EPA—effectively creating regulatory microclimates that don’t qualify themselves.
     This example of “one hand not talking to the other” leads directly to the deterioration of information being shared between regulators. The communication breakdown has resulted in a regulatory framework that’s inconsistent across state lines, where chemicals that are allowed in Washington may be completely banned in Oregon and vice versa. To complicate matters further, the removal and addition of chemicals to each state’s master list is a constant process governed by the advancement of scientific research. As the the safety profiles of established chemicals come to light, some chemicals will effectively be labeled as dangerous and others as benign, resulting in recalls and confusion as companies struggle to keep on top of the changing system.
     According to a press release published by OLCC, “The remainder of the affected nine pound batch of marijuana flower has been placed on administrative hold, meaning it cannot be lawfully transferred, pending the outcome of an additional pesticide retest.”
     The OLCC is taking these failing results very seriously and plans to analyze the remaining buds. Further testing will be done by GreenHaus Analytical Labs out of Portland, which is a state-certified laboratory that tests cannabis for the Oregon recreational industry.