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First Ever Cannabis Product Recalls Announced in California

By Alexander Beadle
Published: Aug 13, 2018   
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When California legalized cannabis for recreational use on January 1, 2018, the state also brought in a new suite of cannabis testing regulations. The regulations include the roll-out of a three-phase plan for improving the testing of cannabis products. The new testing procedures include provisions for independently confirming the potency of the strain being sold, and also the detection of any foreign materials such as pesticides or heavy metal contaminants. The new testing benchmarks are thought to be amongst the strictest in the United States.

Prior to January 2018, when cannabis was legal for medicinal use only in California, product testing was operated on a voluntary model. Cannabis growers and brands were not required to submit samples for testing, but many did to demonstrate transparency to consumers. The new testing regulations have made the third-party testing of all batches of cannabis product before it reaches the market mandatory.

The impact of the new regulations

Now that in-depth cannabis testing has become essential, it is expected that some product recalls would be put into action as cannabis manufacturing companies make moves to protect their consumers in light of any issues flagged during testing. The first voluntary product recall in California was initiated by the vape cartridge manufacturer The Bloom Brand on July 25. The recall is for a batch of cannabis products that were sold in early July for use in four of The Bloom Brand’s vape cartridge products: the BloomVape 0.5g, BloomVape 1g, BloomOne Disposable 300mg, and the BloomDrop 800mg. 

The Bloom Brand issued a press release announcing the recall that includes a number of popular cannabis strains, including Girl Scout Cookies and Blue Dream, listed among those affected. The recall affects a single batch, Batch Number B-180504, which was found to contain detectable levels of Myclobutanil. Myclobutanil is a common fungicide which is approved for use in the USA and across the majority of EU countries, but it is mildly toxic if ingested. The toxicology of Myclobutanil in cannabis products is not fully understood, so out of concern for consumer safety, The Bloom Brand is advising that anyone in possession of a product from the affected batch does not consume it and instead returns it to the dispensary it was purchased at for a full refund. The press release concluded by restating Bloom’s commitment to transparency and safety through their compliance in working with the Bureau of Cannabis Control to deal with the issue.

Further cannabis product recalls

Just two days after the first cannabis product recall, another cannabis company felt it necessary to put out a voluntary recall of their products. The Los Angeles-based cannabis producer Lowell Herb Company issued a voluntary product recall on its pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes. 

It is reported that Lowell Herb Co. had been voluntarily testing its cannabis flower products for months before the mandatory quality tests were put in place. In the case of the recalled batch, the flower was tested and approved by one third-party laboratory and then sent to be manufactured into pre-rolls and distributed across the state. The distributor re-tested the pre-rolls at a second testing laboratory, which also confirmed that the flower met the recognized safety standards. However, two weeks after the product was sent to retailers, the second laboratory reclassified the batch as a failure. In response, Lowell Herb Co. employed a third unique testing laboratory to test the batch. The third lab found passed the pre-rolls under the state testing standards, but out of an abundance of caution, Lowell Herb Co. made the decision to issue a product recall on the affected batch regardless.

The company has contacted all 74 retailers that were stocking the affected pre-rolls and had them removed from shelves to be safely destroyed. Speaking to Marijuana Business Daily, the CEO of Lowell Herb Co., David Elias, reaffirmed his company’s dedication to consumer safety. 

We will make sure our customers can trust us and the actions we will take,” Elias said, “We go above and beyond, and now, depending on the lab you test with, you can have massively divergent results. This does present really big challenges to the industry as a whole. I’m not sure how the state is planning on dealing with this.”

In the wake of the cannabis recalls

The advice from cannabis law professionals to those involved in the cannabis industry is to follow the examples set by companies like The Bloom Brand and Lowell Herb Co. by ensuring that your products are rigorously tested to state standards and to be conservative in the face of any risks to consumers.

Creating a recall plan to be used in the event of any future testing issues is highly recommended to all cannabis producers and testing that plan by conducting a mock recall can ensure that both the company and consumers are protected to the fullest extent from risky cannabis batches.


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