Massive marijuana recall in Michigan leads to lawsuit from testing lab

click to enlarge State regulators recalled thousands of pounds of marijuana over testing results in Michigan. - SHUTTERSTOCK
State regulators recalled thousands of pounds of marijuana over testing results in Michigan.

A Michigan marijuana testing lab is suing state regulators over a massive cannabis recall that forced more than 400 dispensaries to remove thousands of pounds of pot from their shelves last week.

Viridis Laboratories claims in a lawsuit filed in the Michigan Court of Claims on Monday that the Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) recall was “unjustified, prejudiced and retaliatory.”

The MRA said the lab results were inaccurate and unreliable for thousands of pounds of flower and edibles tested between Aug. 10 and Nov. 16 and presented a potential health risk to consumers.

It was the largest recall in state history and left some dispensaries with empty shelves.

“The MRA has disregarded industry experts, widely accepted scientific practices, caused disruption through its reckless and arbitrary decision-making, and ultimately put the patients and consumers it is charged with protecting at risk,” Kevin Blair, attorney with Honigman, LLP, said in a statement Tuesday. “There is no public health or safety risk justifying the recall at all, and we respectfully request the Court to provide relief to Viridis and bring accountability and oversight to an agency that has far exceeded its authority.”

Blair also represented Crystal Lowe, a Detroit resident who sued the city earlier this year over its social equity ordinance that gives licensing preference to longtime Detroiters. The suit led to a judge halting the city’s recreational marijuana ordinance, saying it’s “likely unconstitutional.”

The Viridis suit alleges the MRA violated state law and its own administrative rules by effectively forcing Viridis’ two labs in Lansing and Bay City to shut down without giving the company an opportunity to defend itself.

The company also claims the MRA involved Viridis’ competitors in its investigation and refused to have a third-party examine the reasons for the recall. According to the suit, the state waited three weeks to issue a recall, “raising real questions about the validity and urgency of the alleged public health risk.”

The MRA didn’t immediately respond to Metro Times’ request for comment.

Also on Tuesday, state Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, sent a letter to MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo, requesting more information on the recall.

“The Marijuana Regulatory Agency’s recent recall of nearly 65,000 pounds of cannabis has caused a great deal of concern across the industry. While I appreciate and share your interest in protecting the health and safety of all consumers, I am concerned by some of the things I have heard about how this recall was conducted,” Nesbitt wrote. “Given the importance of this issue, I am requesting more information from you regarding this recall.”

Nesbitt wants a timeline of the recall, the data used to justify the state’s actions, and an explanation for what the agency is doing to help dispensaries impacted by the recall.

“Any time a government agency takes action like this, it is important for the public to understand the basis of these decisions and know how your agency came to the conclusions that it did,” Nesbitt said. "With a highly regulated industry such as this, your agency has considerable power to impact the operations of Michigan businesses and the choices available to consumers. I look forward to your prompt and thorough response.”

Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North were launched by three former cops in 2018. The company previously told Metro Times that it tested about a quarter-million pounds of cannabis a year for potency and contaminants.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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