Cannabis fraud is the industry’s big open secret! But that has to change! That’s why I want to shine a light on the issues within the testing industry and how they are handled. It’s really important to know what you’re consuming, especially if you’re a medical patient like I am. Regulatory enforcement is often inadequate, and the best way you can protect yourself is to avoid poorly tested product.
Here’s a blacklist of issues I’m compiling from following the news and/or issuing freedom of information requests to states.
I’ll be posting more as I uncover them and if you know something I’ve missed, please send me a tip and I’ll add it!
Sequoia Analytical Labs (California – December 2018): Sequoia Analytical Labs, in California, was shut down after falsifying the pesticide results of over 800 COA’s while knowingly operating faulty testing equipment. This resulted in the recall of ten-figures worth of products. (MJ Biz Daily)
Lightscale Labs (Oregon – October 2020 to February 2021): Lightscale Labs, in Oregon, misrepresented testing results for pesticides stating that their samples did not contain pesticides when in fact they could not be detected due to equipment failure. (OLCC Report p. 3-4)
PREE Laboratories (Oregon – January 2023): OLCC recalled 2 retail vaping products (La Mota – Jack Herer and Her – Girl’s Night Out) due to pesticides tested and incorrectly reported by PREE Laboratories, in Oregon. (OLCC News Release / News Review Today)
Viridis Laboratories (Michigan – November 2021): Over 64,000 pounds of marijuana, worth ~$230 million, was recalled in Michigan due to unsafe levels of Aspergillus mold. The recall included all the marijuana tested at Viridis Labs over a several month period. (CBS News)
The recall has since been largely overturned by the courts and kicked off a political debate over the management of Michigan’s cannabis agency. (High Times)
Regulators became aware after brands who failed Aspergillus testing at other labs turned around and had those same samples approved at Viridis. Viridis samples from this period had a 60% failure rate when retested at other labs. (Detroit Free Press)
AltaSci Labs (Connecticut – December 2021): The Connecticut state agency unilaterally increased their allowable mold and thresholds by 100X for AltaSci Labs, one of the two labs in the state. (CT Insider)
The request to raise allowable levels from 10,000 units per gram to 1 million per gram was originated by AltaSci.
After public backlash around the decision to unilaterally change testing standards behind closed doors, state lawmakers changed the rules for testing to require no more than 100,000 units of yeast and mold per gram and zero amounts of aspergillus. (NEC News Today)
ACS Laboratory and Green Scientific Labs (Florida – September 2022): Two labs, ACS and Green Scientific, in Florida were using unapproved PCR methods to test for yeast and mold despite neither lab having the proper certification to use that testing method. Both labs were fined $20k each and were required to stop using PCR methods for yeast and mold. (Analytical Cannabis)
Jolet Ventures (DBA 710 Labs) (Colorado – January 2023): 710 Labs packaged and transferred Retail Marijuana flower (bud/shake/trim) that had levels of Total Yeast and Mold above acceptable limits. These batches were sold in six stores in Colorado. (DOR Advisory / Westword / Analytical Cannabis)
Sissco LLC (DBA Trenchtown) (Colorado – January 2023): Trenchtown, in Colorado, produced Medical and Retail Marijuana flower (bud/shake/trim) that had Microbial levels above acceptable limits and failed to submit Harvest Batches of Medical Marijuana and Retail Marijuana for testing in accordance with MED Rule series 4-100. (DOR Advisory / Analytical Cannabis )
Physician Preferred Products LLC (DBA Doc’s Apothecary) (Colorado – January 2023): Doc’s Apothecary, in Colorado, produced Regulated Marijuana flower (bud/shake/trim) that had unsafe levels of Total Yeast and Mold and Aspergillus levels above acceptable limits. Doc’s Apothecary also failed to properly submit Harvest Batches for testing. (DOR Advisory)
Green Street (DBA The Chronic Boutique) (Colorado – March 2023): Green Street produced Regulated Marijuana flower (bud/shake/trim) that had unsafe levels of Total Yeast, Mold, and Aspergillus. Harvest Batches initially passed contaminant testing, but subsequently failed retesting. (DOR Advisory / Westworld)
Carrick-Harvest, LLC (DBA Veritas Fine Cannabis) (Colorado – March 2023): Carrick-Harvest produced Regulated Marijuana flower that had unsafe levels of Total Yeast and Mold. (DOR Advisory / Analytical Cannabis)
High THC Levels
Peak Analytics (Washington – July 2017): Peak Analytics in Washington had their license suspended after a state audit demonstrated consistently higher THC values reported from Peak Laboratories. (Leafly)
Green Leaf Lab (Oregon – March 2019): As part of a lawsuit between two Oregon labs, a former employee of Oregon Green Leaf labs claimed that she was asked “whether she would be comfortable ‘fudging’ potency numbers in cannabis products,” to increase business. (MJ Biz Daily)
Praxis Laboratory (Washington – December 2020): Praxis Laboratory in Washington was shut down after having falsified the THC results of over 1,200 samples through outright manipulation of data. (LCB Press Release)
OnPoint Laboratories (Arizona – August 2021): After an inspection by AZDHS, OnPoint Laboratories, in Arizona, was in violation of potency inflation from a failure to homogenize samples (p. 20) and a lack of test sample records (p. 23-24). Here’s the report.
Reference Labs (Oregon – December 2021): A complaint against Reference Labs, in Oregon, was filed that other labs were losing clients to Reference Labs because of their higher THC levels. The OLCC conducted an investigation and found inconclusive results. But acknowledged there is a lack of random sampling and blind audits in enforcing the law. Here’s the report.
ACS Laboratory and Method Labs (Florida – July & August 2022): ACS Laboratory and Method Labs in Florida were each fined roughly $5,000 for inflating THC levels by manipulating moisture content. ACS Laboratory was reporting potency at dry weight and total milligrams of THC at wet weight, while Method Labs was adjusting potency levels to dry weight. Here’s the report for ACS Laboratory. (MJ Biz Daily)
Plank Road Laboratories (Oregon – January to February 2023): 14 marijuana vaping products manufactured by Plank Road Laboratories, Inc. (in Oregon) and sold under the brand name Firefly Extracts and Smoke-Rite Wellness were recalled by the OLCC. These products don’t conform to state standards regarding additives because they contained CBN (illegal artificially derived cannabinoid). (FOX 12 / OLCC Advisory)
Green Leaf (Oregon – March 2018 to April 2022): A series of inspections occurred from March 2018 through April 2022 regarding Green Leaf, based in Oregon, by the OLCC and OHA.
The OLCC received complaints regarding Green Leaf knowingly not performing appropriate number of tests for potency (inconclusive), skipping potency tests (inconclusive), testing product that the owner has an ownership stake in (inconclusive), lack of detail for overnight transfer stays of product (warning), and numerous camera failure notifications (warnings). Here are the OLCC reports.
The OHA launched investigations regarding Green Leaf’s low recovery of pesticides, not reporting un-accredited tests, not performing assessment in quality system matrices and not including the evaluation of blanks, not following homogenization processes (pulling apart the flower buds and removing stems / infused pre-rolls tested using one whole pre-roll for each test instead of from
the entire sample), using unverified equipment, and using practice PTs. All of the OHA cases were resolved with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). Here are the OHA reports.
Reference Labs (Oregon – February 2020 to September 2022): The OHA launched investigations regarding Reference Labs’ failure to perform sample duplicates for either the Moisture Analysis or Water Activity method, failure to record the calibration weight set ID on the “Moisture Balance Verification” form (without this information the assessor was unable to determine which weights were used to perform required daily balance checks), improper sealing techniques, lack of procedure for documenting ongoing Demonstration of Capability (DOC)/potency initial calibrations/Laboratory Control Sample (LCS), incompletion of an initial Detection Limit (DL) study for potency, improper spreadsheet formulas that were not locked, and inconsistent use of one method blank for every preparation batch of up to 20 samples. All of the OHA cases were resolved with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). Here are the reports.
PREE Laboratories (Oregon – July 2020 to May 2022): A series of investigations occurred from July 2020 through May 2022 regarding PREE Laboratories, based in Oregon, by the OLCC and OHA.
The OLCC received a complaint over an un-manifested transfer of marijuana from PREE Laboratories, based in Oregon. After investigation the error was made by the transportation workers and resolved through a change in PREE’s SOP. Here’s the OLCC report.
The OHA launched investigations regarding PREE Labs referencing an outdated sampling SOP, not calibrating for and quantitating both the cis- and trans-isomers of Permethrin (a requirement in regulation), spiking Laboratory Control Samples (LCS) after the addition of extraction solvent in batches for pesticide analysis, and freezer temperatures that dropped below acceptable levels.
All of the OHA cases were resolved with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). Here are the OHA reports.
ACS Laboratory (Florida – May 2021 to August 2022): 6 inspections occurred from May 2021 through August 2022, the Florida Department of Health found violations and deficiencies for inflation and misreporting, unapproved testing methods, failed proficiency tests, and inspection failures. These cases have amounted to a total of $30,000+ in fines. Here are the reports.
MW Labs (Oregon – August 2021): The OHA launched investigations regarding MW Labs manipulated data in a laboratory control sample during pesticides analysis by manually changing the peak integration parameters when the instrument is stabilizing at the beginning of a run. The OHA also found that MW Labs was not sampling the bottom third of a sample batch to avoid damaging the flower, thereby not randomly sampling the flower. All of the OHA cases were resolved with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). Here are the reports.
Pure Labs (Arizona – January 2022): Over 7 inspections occurred from October 2020 through January 2022, by the AZDHS of Pure Labs, which all included repeat violations for inventory control and improper testing procedures. Here’s the report.
Lack of true inventory control procedure with over 5 grams of unaccounted product in one instance (p. 12)
Inconsistent homogenization process by randomly picking parts of the bud for weighing and illegally trimming all leaves and stems prior to homogenization (p. 14)
Inappropriate manual data integrations to change percent recovery, change the baseline, and input background noise to produce a response on a signal-to-noise ratio (p. 22-23)
Repeat failures to have an acceptable proficiency test of each parameter and analyte and to properly calibrate or maintain calibration records for key equipments (p. 15-22)
Unapproved methods for E.Coli, Salmonella, Aspergillus, and Heavy Metals Testing (p. 21-28)
OnPoint Laboratories (Arizona – February 2022): Arizona regulators fined the OnPoint Laboratories after repeated and intentional violations including, “incomplete records and documentation for inventory, marijuana disposal, maintenance records for equipment, chemical storage, and employee training.” Here’s the report. (MJBizDaily / Cannabis Business Times / PHOENIX 3TV/CBS 5 / Ganjapreneur)
Every assay does not have work and is noncompliant (p. 13)
Repeated inconsistent capture of Potency instrument data (p. 15)
No audit trails of testing instruments and equipment (p. 15)
Repeat failures to have an acceptable proficiency test of each parameter and analyte (p. 19)
Repeat failures to use approved and appropriate screening methods for heavy metals, arsenic, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, mycotoxins, E. coli and salmonella (p. 30-52)
3B Analytical (Oregon – September 2022): The OHA launched investigations regarding 3B Analytical’s inconsistent percent moisture data sheet collection and signature routine, not labeling expiration dates on potency analyses, lack of preparation record for Laboratory Control Sample (LCS), lack of analyzing performance verification standards for water activity analysis batches, and Proficiency Test (PT) sample for moisture analysis analyzed in duplicates. All of the OHA cases were resolved with a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). Here are the reports.
605 Cannabis (DBA Badlands) (South Dakota – February 2023): South Dakota Medical Cannabis Program (SDMCP) requested a voluntary product recall due to the Badland’s failure to test product and have licenses for edible products, mislabeling, contamination, and lack of inventory tracking. (SDMCP Advisory)
Candid Labs, LLC (DBA Layercake Farms 2, LLC) (Michigan – February 2023): Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) issued formal complaints and announced summary suspensions of the medical and adult-use processor licenses held by Candid Labs due to investigations and formal complaints that demonstrate the safety and health risk of their patrons and employees. (CRA Advisory)