The Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) has opened an investigation into several dispensaries for allegedly selling tainted marijuana products, the agency announced Tuesday.
In a news release, the CCB, which governs the Silver State’s cannabis industry, said marijuana strain Cherry OG F3 twice failed microbial testing earlier this year. However, three Las Vegas retail shops continued to sell through inventory despite a March 5, 2020 CCB directive to halt sales.
According to the agency, Nevada dispensaries were instructed to “destroy or return the affected product to the cultivator” and inform the state of their removal.
However, it appears three companies — Waveseer of Las Vegas, LLC (Jenny’s Dispensary), Paradise Wellness Center, LLC (Las Vegas ReLeaf) and Desert Aire Wellness, LLC (Sahara Wellness) — disregarded the CCB’s mandate and continued selling the compromised product anyway.
According to the CCB, roughly 375 grams the Cherry OG F3 products in question were sold between May 19, 2020 and June 29, 2020. They had previously failed lab tests for yeast and mold, coliforms, Enterobacteriaceae and Aspergillus.
Enterobacteriaceae is a family of bacteria that includes salmonella and E.coli, and can cause infections such as pneumonia.
Aspergillus is a fungus that is commonly spread through the air we breathe but can pose serious risks to immunocompromised individuals — especially those consuming cannabis for medical reasons.
“The CCB advises those who have purchased the product to avoid consuming it,” the agency wrote.
This isn’t the first time state officials have had to crack down on cannabis companies for selling contaminated products. Earlier this year, the Nevada Department of Taxation sent out a public health and safety advisory informing cannabis consumers to avoid using several products sold at more than two dozen dispensaries.
Issued on February 21, 2020, the advisory listed 20 products that failed testing for yeast, mold, coliforms, Enterobacteriaceae and Aspergillus and were sold at 30 dispensaries.
At the time, it was believed the affected marijuana products were sold in the form of flower and pre-rolls between October 25, 2019 and January 16, 2020 and had passed independent testing by Las Vegas-based laboratory Cannex.
The cannabis came from six different cultivators, including Integral Cultivation LLC, THC Nevada LLC, 3AP INC, Nevada Group Wellness LLC, Qualcan LLC, and Franklin BioScience NV LLC.
“There is no reason to believe that the dispensaries or cultivators had any knowledge that the products exceeded allowable limits,” the Department of Taxation said at the time.
This time around, however, the three dispensaries who continued to sell tainted cannabis products did so knowingly, the CCB said.
“On May 16, 2020, a hold on the product was temporarily lifted due to a CCB error that occurred during an unrelated investigation,” the agency said. “However, the CCB’s health and safety advisory remained in effect; and under the directive, dispensaries should not have had the product in their inventory.”
Nevada regulators have issued five public health advisories since last August, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Nevada is the latest state to crack down on the sale of contaminated cannabis. Last week, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority fined Moon Mix, LLC, a cannabis processor, $541,000 for selling offerings that contained several pesticides.
Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission levied fines against two companies for illegally spraying crops with banned pesticides. Healthy Pharms — which does business under the “Mission” brand of dispensaries and is backed by Arizona-based multistate operator 4Front Ventures — was fined $350,000, while Garden Remedies was fined $200,000.