High pesticide level in store's pot prompts recall
SALEM — The Oregon Liquor Control Commission issued its first recall of recreational marijuana after testing of a brand sold at a Mapleton, Ore., store showed it contained a level of pesticide residue that exceeds the state limit.
The OLCC , which oversees retail sales of recreational cannabis, said samples of Blue Magoo marijuana failed a test for pyrethin levels. Pyrethins are a mixture of six chemicals that are toxic to insects, according to the National Pesticide Information Center based at Oregon State University. Pyrethins are found in some chrysanthemum flowers, and in some cases can be used on organic products.
The recall points out some of the complications that accompany the legalization of recreational cannabis. Growers, like all other agricultural producers, now face a regulatory structure they may not have dealt with before.
Pesticide use has been particularly thorny, because the federal government still considers cannabis illegal and has not established allowable tolerances of pesticides in pot. As a result, states that have legalized cannabis are figuring it out themselves. Oregon tests cannabis for 59 active ingredients.
"It's a big struggle, for sure," said Sunny Jones, cannabis policy coordinator for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
The Oregon Health Authority oversees medical marijuana, OLCC oversees recreational marijuana, and ODA regulates aspects that range from food safety regarding cannabis edibles to pesticides, water quality issues and commercial scales used to weigh the product. The recalled pot was grown by Emerald Wave Estate, based in Creswell, Ore., and sold at Buds 4 U in Mapleton, a small town west of Eugene. The OLCC said people who bought the pot should dispose of it or return it to the retailer.
Mark Pettinger, spokesman for OLCC, said the retailer has fully cooperated in the recall. It sold 82.5 grams of Blue Magoo to 31 customers from March 8 through March 10. The store noticed the failed pesticide reading in the state's Cannabis Tracking System on March 10 and immediately notified OLCC, Pettinger said.
"The retailer was great," he said. "They get the gold star."
Pesticide application would have been done at the grower level, which is the province of ODA. Pettinger said the distribution system breakdown occurred when a wholesaler, Cascade Cannabis Distributing, of Eugene, shipped the pot to the Mapleton store before pesticide test results were entered in the state's tracking system. The testing was done by GreenHaus Analytical Labs, of Portland, which is certified by the state to test cannabis for potency, water content and pesticide residue.
The mistake might qualify as a violation under Oregon administrative rules, Pettinger said. Failure to keep proper records is a Class III violation; the first offense is punishable by up to 10 days of business closure and a $1,650 fine. Four violations within a two-year period can lead to license revocation.
The rest of the grower's nine-pound batch of Blue Magoo marijuana flower has been placed on administrative hold, meaning it cannot be lawfully sold pending the outcome of additional pesticide testing. Pettinger said the pot is in the grower's possession.