Over 500 Ounces of Moldy Weed May Be Moving Through Michigan's Pot Shops
State regulators recalled nearly 64,000 pounds of weed contaminated with a dangerous fungus, but a judge allowed hundreds of ounces to remain on the shelf
Published on February 24, 2022

Cover image via

Legal cannabis stores in Michigan are selling more than 500 ounces of weed that could be contaminated with a deadly fungus, according to a new investigation by MLive.

Last fall, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) recalled nearly 64,000 pounds of weed that tested positive for dangerous levels of mold and yeast. Some of this legal flower was also found to contain aspergillus, a pathogenic fungus that can cause lung infections and even death if inhaled. Under the state's strict testing laws, small concentrations of mold or yeast are allowable, but any pot that contains any quantity of aspergillus must be destroyed.

The MRA issued the recall for cannabis tested by Viridis Laboratories, a state-licensed business with testing facilities in Lansing and Bay City. But since regulators only filed an audit for the Lansing facility, Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray overturned the recall for any weed processed at the Bay City lab. 

Faced with the prospect of losing thousands of dollars' worth of product, several cultivators and processors whose products had been recalled began pressuring regulators to let them sell the contaminated weed released by the judge.

Thaier Fandakly, technology manager for legal cultivator Mediq Laboratories, emailed Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state attorney general demanding that regulators return any flower that was affected by the judge's decision. “According to Judge Murray’s order on [Dec. 3], all recalled products should be treated as if [the] recall never happened,” Fandakly wrote, MLive reported. “I’m requesting our products be changed to ‘test passed’ immediately. This is costing our business irreparable harm each day [the] MRA delays the reversal.”

The reversal eventually allowed around 32 pounds of weed that failed safety testing to return to the market. That's only a small percentage of the total amount that was recalled, but it still breaks down to 513 ounces of potentially-toxic flower. This bud was returned to stores without any indication that it had failed lab tests, and offered up for sale. In addition to the flower, stores were also allowed to sell nearly 2,500 other weed products that had failed testing.

“This product has been sold” or “is currently available for sale,” MRA spokesperson David Harns told MLive. “Each and every action the MRA took regarding this product safety recall was based solely on protecting Michigan’s cannabis consumers. When we were taken to court in an effort to stop the recall, we raised concerns through our court pleadings about potential health and safety concerns. When a large portion of subsequent tests failed, we made sure that the court was aware.”

Viridis maintains that their cannabis testing methods are completely accurate, despite the recall. “Once a sample has cleared point-in-time testing, the associated product goes through a variety of uncontrolled environments from transportation to processing/packaging, and finally to the provisioning centers where the product is handled by staff and customers,” said Viridis Laboratories CEO Greg Michaud to MLive. “Contamination can and does occur at any part of these handling processes.”

Michaud argued that the MRA does not require, or even allow, cannabis to be tested after its initial safety inspection. “If the MRA believes that post-testing microbial growth is a health and safety issue, they should require re-testing of product if it’s still on shelves after a certain time has passed since the initial test,” he advised

The MRA has not provided a list of specific products that failed the safety testing, but did share a list of 400 retailers that had received recalled weed. The agency is also investigating 22 cases of health issues, including nausea, headaches, and asthma that may be linked to the contaminated bud, including one case that resulted in pancreatitis and hospitalization.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
Share this article with your friends!
By using our site you agree to our use of cookies to deliver a better experience.