Michigan state authorities permanently ordered the closure of a cannabis testing lab after the facility was caught faking its test results for product compliance and safety.
On Friday, the state suspended the license for Iron Wall Labs, one of Michigan’s six marijuana testing labs, the Detroit Free Press reported. The state accused the laboratory of underreporting heavy metal, pesticide, and pest contaminant levels found in pot products while also underreporting THC contents of other products.
"It is imperative that our licensees follow the rules and laws, especially regarding the testing of medical marijuana product,” the Michigan Regulatory Agency’s Executive Director, Andrew Brisbo, said in a press release on Friday. “We are intensely focused on making sure that the marijuana product in the regulated industry meets established safety standards.”
The state has not yet issued a recall for cannabis products that were tested by Iron Wall Labs, though it has issued warnings for consumers and businesses to remain wary of any products that were tested by the lab. The state is still investigating the scope of the issue, as well as which products, in particular, received fabricated numbers.
That doesn’t mean Michigan won’t issue a recall. The state issued its first marijuana recall earlier this year for weed contaminated with E. coli and salmonella bacteria.
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While Michigan’s pot labs are already severely back-logged due to weed’s swelling popularity, contaminants in cannabis products pose a public safety hazard. Heavy metals and pesticide residues have been linked to all kinds of toxicity-related issues, such as poisonings or cancers.
And although no one has died from taking too much THC, underreporting the drug’s values could lead to bad intoxicating experiences among novice users or those with low tolerances. According to a recent study from Colorado, the majority of patients admitted to ERs for pot usually end up there because of marijuana edibles, which are typically capped at 10mg THC per serving for a reason.
This isn’t the first time a cannabis testing lab got busted by state officials, either. Last year, Sequoia Analytical Labs, a cannabis testing lab in Sacramento, California, was caught underreporting pesticide levels in licensed weed products.
It’s no secret that some unscrupulous cannabis testing labs have fudged values to ensure their clients’ products stay on the market. The problem is further compounded by the lack of testing standards — industry-wide protocols for testing THC or pesticide values — the result of marijuana remaining illegal at the federal level. With no testing standards, lab results can vary wildly between individual labs. So, for example, a product that tests 10mg THC in one lab may come up as 12mg THC in another.
But the fact another lab was caught violating testing protocols shows that corruption is thriving in parts of the legal weed industry. But it also proves that regulators can’t be fooled forever, and if they catch on, it means adios to any lab’s expensive and coveted weed license.
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