Colorado Issues a Massive Statewide Recall for Moldy Weed
Is the latest recall a sign that legalization regulations are working… or failing?
Published on October 15, 2019

One of Colorado’s largest cannabis producers issued a voluntary statewide recall for weed contaminated with mold or yeast.

The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) announced the recall on Monday, October 14th. The contaminated products come from Bonsai Cultivation, a cannabis wholesaler. The recalled products include pre-roll joints, flower, shake, and infused products distributed to 144 retail locations, three cultivation facilities, and 11 extract/manufacturing facilities, according to the notice. 

The contaminated batch bears the OPC serial number 403R-00228, and it includes all Bonsai Cultivation products from this batch that were purchased prior to October 14th, 2019.

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“DDPHE opened an investigation after identifying multiple samples of marijuana plant material that had failed total yeast and mold sampling from multiple retail store locations,” the department said in the notice. “DDPHE is investigating this issue and overseeing the recall process to remove potentially contaminated products from commercial circulation.”

DDPHE advises anyone with cannabis products bearing this number on their labels to either destroy the product or return it to the dispensary where it was purchased. Dispensaries should honor the return by issuing store credit, a refund, or offering a trade of comparable value. A full list of all dispensaries and retailers who carried the contaminated batch can be found here

The Colorado cannabis industry and its regulators have struggled with mold-contaminated weed for years. In 2015, a widespread pesticide scandal exposed many of the state’s top operators for using a hazardous fungicide, Eagle-20 a.k.a. myclobutanil, on their weed. After months of court battles and noisy press coverage, the industry and regulators hammered out new regulations that officially banned the use of Eagle-20, which can produce toxic cyanide fumes when combusted or vaporized. 

However, despite Eagle-20’s inherent dangers, the fungicide is incredibly effective at stopping and preventing powdery mildew and other molds from contaminating marijuana crops. Powdery mildew or molds can be easily prevented when a cultivation area has excellent air circulation. But since most of Colorado’s legal weed is grown in highly secured indoor facilities, mold issues are rampant. City and state authorities issue recalls for moldy weed several times a year. Growing weed outdoors would be the one of the simplest solutions to the mold issue, but currently, only two Colorado counties permit outdoor marijuana grows: Pueblo County and Eagle County.

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Colorado is also experiencing a cannabis shortage due to new testing requirements and consumer demand. The industry’s inability to keep up with consumer demand caused weed prices to soar in recent weeks. The latest Bonsai recall won’t help with supply and costs, either.

“Bonsai Cultivation is a state-of-the-art, recreational cannabis cultivation and wholesale company based in Denver, Colorado,” reads the company’s website. “Our management team boasts over 25 years of combined experience in Colorado’s cannabis marketplace, and has won dozens of industry awards including multiple High Times Cannabis Cups and THC Championships. We are passionate about producing the highest quality cannabis for the most discerning dispensaries and customers.”

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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