February 25, 2019

Several Cannabis Products Have Been Recalled in Michigan This Month Ushering in Modifications to Current Testing Regulations


More product recalls were issued recently by Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). “Public Health and Safety Advisories” were published by LARA on February 1st and February 4th, alerting patients and other stakeholders that various batches of flower and other products sold from November 2018 into this year failed laboratory screenings for various quality control and safety categories, including chemical residue, moisture content, microbial contamination, and heavy metals.

Prior to the two product recalls issued this month, four were published in January. Notably, Michigan regulators allowed untested product to be sold by licensed dispensaries – as well as a few dozen outlets that have applied for, but not yet received a license – through the end of the current quarter. LARA and state medical cannabis officials also allowed dispensaries to buy product from caregivers while licensed cultivators and processors work to get up and running.

A report from MLive regarding the February 1st recall states that the five health advisories issued to that point all were in regard to caregiver-produced product. The repeated recalls may give pause to dispensary owners who are considering buying from caregivers.

If such behavior manifests in Michigan, it could have various impacts on wholesale prices. On the one hand, if buyers are wary of and unwilling to purchase the caregiver product on offer, then available supply might increase. However, dispensaries may also be willing to pay more for voluntarily tested product that they can be assured will not be recalled, which would apply upward pressure on wholesale rates.

However, recent changes to testing policies may also result in fewer recalls going forward. This week, LARA issued a notice alerting licensees that multiple regulatory bulletins had been updated. Among the changes made by the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR), which is a division of LARA, was one stating that, “banned chemical residue active ingredient detection limits [were changed] to action limits.”

The bulletin goes on to state that any detection of chemical residue from pesticides previously triggered a failed test. Now, under the new policy, a batch of product may pass such screenings if detected residues are below a certain limit, which varies by chemical. The change brings Michigan’s rules in line with those of other states, BMR and LARA note. The new policy regarding chemical residue testing may lessen the number of recalls, in addition to making buyers more willing to take in inventory.