Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) issued its largest marijuana recall ever on November 17 because of concerns over safety tests conducted by two companies.
Most products containing marijuana flower that had passed safety testing at Viridis Laboratories, LLC and Viridis North, LLC between August 10 and November 16 were recalled in a move that reportedly affected products sold at over 400 retail locations. The affected retailers were outlined in a 31-page Public Health and Safety Bulletin issued by the MRA. The recall did not impact inhalable marijuana concentrate products such as vape carts, live resin, distillate, and cannabis concentrate.
The value of the recalled marijuana products is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars and affected more than half the current stock for many retailers, according to multiple media reports.
The investigation is ongoing and additional findings may be released by the MRA at a later date.
The reasoning for the recall was “inaccurate and/or unreliable” microbial lab test results according to the MRA, although further details were not released by the agency. Microbial testing is required of cannabis products with the hope of eliminating products containing high levels of mold, bacteria, and yeast. Having a high level of those substances can lead to an increased risk of illness for users, including cases of E. coli and salmonella.
A large state recall mandated by the MRA also occurred in August 2020 after a marijuana flower failed safety and compliance testing for both mold and yeast.
What retailers and consumers should do with recalled products
Retailers are directed to properly dispose of any recalled products in adherence to MRA guidelines and along with processors must discontinue sales and transfers. Proof of product destruction must be sent to the MRA’s compliance email at MRA-Compliance@michigan.gov. Another option is for an affected product to be retested or sent back to the original licensee source.
Additionally, retailers must display recall notices in visible locations on their sales floors.
Customers who purchased the recalled product are expected to return those products to the retailer they purchased it from for disposal.
Product testing is at the heart of medical marijuana legislation
Proponents of a more heavily regulated medical marijuana market argue that a significant amount of marijuana sold in the state is done so illegally as part of an illicit market, which threatens the health and safety of consumers because there is no guarantee the products have been properly tested.
One of the outcomes of this debate is the recent introduction of bills in the Michigan Legislature that would limit the role and more heavily regulate caregivers in growing, storing, and distributing product.
Testing guidelines by the MRA are readily available online
The MRA has created and updated its Sampling and Testing Technical Guidance document for marijuana products. The basic tenet is that all sampling and analysis must be conducted by a laboratory licensed by the MRA and accredited to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO/IEC 17025:2017 by an International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) recognized accreditation body or by an entity approved by the MRA.
Our team will continue to keep you updated on this recall and related news, and the progress of any legislation impacting the marijuana industry in Michigan. If you have any questions, please contact Paul Mallon or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.