Michigan: Four Mandatory Medical Cannabis Recalls within One Month
Several batches of medical cannabis product sold at one Ypsilanti-based dispensary are being recalled following a failure to meet state testing standards. This recall is the state’s fourth mandatory health and safety recall from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, and the fifth cannabis product recall in total since Jan 1. Four of the six product batches affected by the testing have been recalled for failure to pass the state’s standards for chemical residue testing; an additional batch was failed for residual solvents, and a final batch failed tests for both chemical residue and total yeast and mold.
Fixing a medical cannabis shortage
This sudden influx of safety recalls follows the Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board agreement to allow licensed businesses to buy cannabis from caregivers to help meet product demand in the face of a state-wide medical marijuana shortage. Previously, licensed dispensaries found to be buying their stock from caregivers could face significant fines or their license being terminated, because cannabis grown by caregivers is usually untested. Patients are being asked to sign waivers before buying this untested cannabis from state dispensaries or provisioning centers.
This agreement was set to last until December 31, and now that this deadline has passed and proper testing procedures have been reinstated, many batches of marijuana being sold by state dispensaries and provisioning centers are failing to meet state standards.
Risks to health from caregiver cannabis
So far, no incidents linking the consumption of untested caregiver marijuana to illness have been reported to the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, despite the recalls from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs citing health and safety concerns as the reason for the recall.
“All the cannabis provided in 2018 was all from caregivers,” said Rick Thompson, a board member of the pro-cannabis organizations Michigan NORML and MILegalize, to MLive. “If we didn’t hear of any illnesses in 2018, then it doesn’t rise to the level of emergency or concern in my mind.”
Michigan’s medical marijuana industry is no stranger to caregiver-grown cannabis, with up to 100 operational but unlicensed dispensaries known to have sold caregiver product during 2018. Then, state regulators agreed not to directly pursue these unlicensed dispensaries on account of a court case that impeded the state from doing so and allowed these dispensaries to operate on a temporary basis, but as of Dec 31 2018, the court’s restraining order expired.
Following the expiry of the court order, the 72 dispensaries that had been operating on this temporary approval were advised to stop carrying out business until they could obtain a license — leaving the state with only 45 licensed dispensaries to fill demand.
Further temporary measures addressing the shortage
The Medical Marihuana Licensing Board reversed this decision at a meeting on January 16, agreeing to let a number of currently unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries remain open until March 31, following a number of lawsuits filed by dispensaries appealing their closure and after additional pleas from the patients the closures would effect. At the same meeting, it was also agreed to extend the time period in which dispensaries can buy and distribute cannabis supplies from caregivers to patients, also until March 31, and despite the numerous recalls already in effect.
“This recommendation will extend the temporary operation of facilities and allow licensed businesses to remain competitive during this transition period,” said Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks in a statement.
Patients will still be asked to sign a waiver whenever purchasing this untested cannabis, but in light of the numerous recalls patients are also being encouraged to seek out independent testing for any untested products that they purchase.
Information concerning the product recalls
The four mandatory recalls affect cannabis product sold at: Indica, LLC, Ypsilanti; HG Lansing, Lansing; Compassionate Care By Design, Kalamazoo; and The Green Mile Detroit, Detroit. There is also a voluntary product recall affecting some products sold at Choice Labs, LLC. Patients or caregivers in possession of any of the affected batches are advised to return them to the dispensary where they were purchased, for proper disposal or further testing.
Patients concerned about cannabis products they have purchased that are not included in the recalls are advised to contact a state-licensed testing laboratory via www.michigan.gov/BMR.