After High-Profile Recalls in California, Marijuana Lab Testing Labs Brace for More Scrutiny

Cannabis product recalls are becoming a serious matter after a string of notable incidents in July and August 2108, all of which could lead to unwanted scrutiny over product safety protocols at testing labs.  

The Bloom Brand announced a recall July 25, 2018, of a manufactured batch of cannabis products from certain California retailers for containing the pesticide myclobutanil that does not comply with the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s (BCC) standards.

The company voluntarily recalled four products sold between July 1 and July 19, 2018, containing Batch Number B-180504. Product names included in the recall are BloomVape 0.5 g, BloomVape 1 g, BloomOne Disposable 300 mg and BloomDrop 800 mg.

The recall covered nearly 100 retailers across California; no other states were affected.

A public relations representative for the Bloom Brand referred questions from the media to a recall statement on the company’s website that provides a list of product names and strains recalled, as well the retail locations that stocked the products.

“We are working closely with the BCC to remedy this issue and expect clean, compliant products to be back on shelves in three weeks,” reads the recall statement.

A BCC spokesperson said that this was California’s first cannabis product recall since the adult use became legal on Jan. 1, 2018.

“As of right now, our sole focus has been on public safety and working with the manufacturers and the Department of Public Health to make sure those products get recalled,” BCC spokesman Alex Traverso replied in an email to

Based on data provided by the BCC, it’s not uncommon for cannabis products to fail testing. Of the certificates of analysis sent to the BCC by August 6, 20 percent of cannabis products received failed certificates of analysis, of which 68 percent failed because of errors in label claims, such as the amount of THC or CBD printed on a label. The remainder of the failed tests were due to the presence of contaminants, such as pesticides, solvents, and microbes,  according to the BCC.

Data: Percentage breakdown provided by the Bureau of Cannabis Control. Infographic: Allena Braithwaite/

Second Batch of Recalled Products  Made It to Retail

Los Angeles-based Lowell Herb Co. issued a voluntary recall beginning on July 27, 2018, after a patch of products passed through more than one testing lab and made its way to retail.

The company said flower was approved by SC Labs in Santa Cruz, manufactured into pre-rolls and sent to a distributor. The distributor had the batch of pre-rolls tested by Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco, where it initially passed and was sent out to be sold, but, two weeks later, the status of the batch was changed to “fail.”

Two top executives for SC Labs said Lowell submitted a sample for a research and development test, which wasn’t designed to screen for everything required by the state, and that the sample was not put through a compliance test by the lab.

Josh Wurzer, the firm’s president, and CEO Jeff Gray, said an R&D test doesn’t clear a product to go to a retailer, but instead the test is intended to merely provide information about a sample.

Gray said samples are failed by the lab every day.

“If we fail or pass a client neither one of those instances results in a recall,” Gray said. “A recall is because failing product makes it to market.”

Gray said it is likely that the sample was tested for other elements by separate labs.

“It’s a different test on possibly a different sample,” Gray added.

Wurzer believes it’s inaccurate to say the lab approved the sample because it was only run through a research-and-development test as the client had requested.

“To say that we OK’d it or approved it is disingenuous,” Wurzer said.

Meanwhile, testing labs in Alaska may be under scrutiny following a June report by the state’s  Department of Environmental Conservation and the Alcohol and Marijuana Office (AMCO) revealed Alaskan labs return widely different test results for marijuana samples.

The report showed varied readings by two cannabis lab testing facilities on the same plant.

Gray believes instances like recalls and varied readings are part of the growth experience for the cannabis lab segment, and he believes that labs on the whole are providing accurate analyses.

“We’re definitely going through some growing pains as an industry, but the general thrust that labs don’t agree in testing I think is missing the point,” Gray said. “I think, by and large, people are getting it right.”

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