Owners of two Denver marijuana growing facilities on Friday said they were voluntarily recalling their products after city health officials learned tests found unapproved pesticides.
The recall of an undisclosed amount of plants and edible products is the second issued by the Denver Department of Environmental Health in just over a week, underscoring the city’s enforcement efforts on companies allegedly using disallowed chemicals.
Department officials said retailers should either destroy the recalled products or return them to the manufacturer. Consumers who have the products should return them to the store of purchase or dispose of them.
Owners of the two impacted businesses — Summit Wellness, which operates as Den-Rec: Denver Recreational Dispensary, and Sacred Seed — confirmed they were removing products from their store shelves.
“It’s true,” Den-Rec owner James Monaco told The Denver Post about the recall. “We’re working through the process and will have a statement on our Twitter feed later tonight.”
The Sacred Seed recall apparently was the result of pesticides a rogue employee secretly applied in the middle of the night without permission, CEO Jeremy Kilbourne told The Post.
Recalled products will display “Origin RMCF” numbers 403R-00174, 403R-00043, 403-00362, 402-00240 or 402R-00037 on their labels.
As in the city’s prior marijuana recall, returned products cannot be sold until additional testing clears them of residues of the disallowed pesticides. The businesses also have the discretion to destroy them.
“We’re in a state of shock,” Kilbourne said. “We pulled everything off of our shelves, self-quarantined our grow and our product. We don’t wholesale, so no one has our product out there except the small amount of trim for processing.”
Coverage of marijuana pesticides in Colorado pot
The products subject to the recall had been tested at Mahatma Concentrates in Denver, which was already under a recall issued Sept. 8 for its own products that had tested positive for pesticides that state agriculture officials have not cleared for use on cannabis.
The city’s inquiry at Mahatma extended to several businesses that send it marijuana trimmings for processing into edible concentrates such as wax and shatter, which are then returned or distributed to different stores.
As a result of the first recall, Mahatma began pesticide testing on all marijuana trimmings that arrive at its Denver facility. It was that testing that found pesticides in the latest recalled products.
Kilbourne said Mahatma informed him of the test results and the company immediately contacted officials at the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.
“We’re going to be getting it tested and figuring out the extent of damage, and destroying materials or throwing it out, whatever Environmental Health wants us to do,” Kilbourne said. “We’re reeling right now.”
Kilbourne said the Sacred Seed employee responsible for the pesticide misuse had left on Tuesday and offered an explanation in a resignation letter.
“He said, ‘I’m so sorry. We had a minor bug problem, and I was concerned we were going to lose the crop,'” Kilbourne said of the letter. “Not only did we tell him not to use those (pesticides), we had sent him and two others to specialized pesticide handlers training through the (Colorado) Department of Agriculture.”
It was unclear how Den-Rec learned of the test results. Denver inspectors said they only found application log books for the past 30 days at Den-Rec and the business said older ones had been destroyed, reports show.
The CDA issued a list earlier this year of products it says can be used on marijuana. Because the drug is illegal under federal law, no pesticide is specifically approved for use on cannabis, but some label restrictions are so broadly written that using the chemical would not violate them.
Federal law mandates that no pesticide may be used in a manner that is not consistent with its label.
Most marijuana growers are not well-informed about pesticide use and the rules behind them, CDA officials have said, so what appears to solve a problem in a greenhouse could actually be a violation of law.
Pesticides are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and it offers no information about marijuana because the drug is illegal.
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