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Michigan issues massive marijuana recall based on safety testing concerns

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Michigan licensing officials late on November 17 issued what is likely the state’s largest-ever marijuana recall, since the commercial market opened in December 2019.

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) has recalled all marijuana flower products that passed safety tests at Viridis Laboratories between August 10 and November 16. The exact amount of products affected by the MRA has not been released.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs described lab test results as “inaccurate and/or unreliable” in a notice issued just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, but offered no further explanation for the agency’s concern. The recall does not affect THC extracts, such as e-cigarette cartridges, resin, and distillates.

“While we strongly disagree with this decision and strongly adhere to our test results, we fully cooperate with MRA and work closely with our customers to minimize outages and retest affected products at no cost,” Viridis said in a prepared statement. “We have been authorized to continue testing at each of our state-of-the-art facilities.

“We look forward to continuing to serve our amazing customers using the best and most advanced scientific methods so that we can achieve our mission of enhancing the health and safety of patients and adult consumers.”

Customers who have the recalled product are being asked to return it to the retailer they purchased it from for “appropriate disposal,” according to the Commerce Department’s notice. “Consumers with compromised immune systems or lung disease are most vulnerable to health-related accidents such as aspergillosis, which can affect lung function, if these potentially harmful products are consumed.”

All products must have safety labels that contain the date the product passed testing and the lab where it was tested. Veridis Laboratories, founded by former Michigan State Police forensic scientists, operates laboratories in Bay City and Lansing. The license identification numbers for Viridis Laboratories that should appear on the labels are: “SC-000009, AU-SC-000113″ and “SC-000014, AU-SC-000103”.

Retailers, processors, and licensed companies that have a product tested within the specified time frame are required to halt sales and conversions.

“Marijuana sales sites that have sold the product covered by this prospectus must display this recall notice on the sales floor, visible to all customers, for 30 days from the date of this notice,” the DOC said. Licensees with products in stock that meet the criteria for recall have the following options: Destroy the product and provide evidence of destruction: MRA-Compliance@michigan.gov; Retest product for microbial compliance panel; (or) send the product back to the source of the original licensee so they can either destroy the product or retest it as a larger batch.”

Microbial testing aims to filter out products likely to contain high levels of yeast, mold, and bacteria, including deadly Escherichia coli (STEC) and salmonella.

The Department of Foreign Affairs did not respond to MLive’s request for more information about the summons.

Viridis, a two-year-old company, in June MLive said that it was sample tests estimated at about 250 thousand pounds of the marijuana flower that enters the market every year. Although this number has likely increased since June, it represents nearly 10% of all flowers sold in October, the last month for which data from the MRA is available.

The Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association (MCMA), a lobbying organization and industry trade group that supports the regulated market and is trying to limit production of medical marijuana providers, issued a statement after the recall.

“At MCMA, we believe that all cannabis should be tested, graded and traced, and we believe that cannabis as alcohol, drug and food products should be regulated to enhance patient and consumer safety,” the group said. “While the recall announced today by the Department of Foreign Trade would be disruptive to the business operations of some of our members as well as the industry as a whole, product recalls are sometimes a necessary function of a licensed and regulated marketplace to ensure product safety.

“Unfortunately, two-thirds of the cannabis sold in Michigan originates from the unregulated, unlicensed, and illicit market, which puts patient and consumer safety at risk.”

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