Washington State regulators just shut down one of the state's licensed cannabis testing facilities for allegedly falsifying testing data on cannabis products and attempting to destroy the evidence.
Last week, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) announced that it had issued a “summary suspension” against Praxis Laboratory, a licensed cannabis testing facility in Centralia, Washington. The LCB claims that the lab intentionally labeled over 1,200 cannabis products as having higher THC levels than the products actually contained.
“Labeling cannabis with falsely high THC potency levels is a form of consumer deception and is prohibited under Washington law,” the LCB said in a statement. “THC is the natural chemical compound responsible for cannabis's psychoactive effect. Because of this, cannabis users seeking more pronounced psychoactive results may choose to buy cannabis with higher levels of THC.”
As a result of their investigation, regulators have suspended Praxis' cannabis testing license for 180 days, from December 10, 2020 until June 8, 2021. During this time, the LCB will work to have the lab's license permanently revoked.
Praxis Laboratory firmly denied the accusations. “We are extremely disappointed in the agency’s obscene behavior,” the company said in a statement, The Olympian reported. “We would like to thank the LCB for attempting a death sentence on a small local business employing approximately 20 amazing people right before the holidays, during a recession… not to mention a pandemic.”
Regulators also claim that “the lab owner attempted to destroy evidence of falsified data in an effort to obstruct LCB’s ability to conduct a complete investigation.” A spokesperson for the lab told McClatchy News that the company actually provided investigators “full access to everything they have asked for and more,” but added that a “disgruntled former employee stole data ... and hijacked access to the data.”
Washington's adult-use law, enacted in 2014, granted the LCB authority to oversee the state's cannabis testing labs. Ironically, the LCB faced its own accusations of conspiring with testing labs to illegally inflate reported THC levels, and last year, state lawmakers advanced a bill to strip the agency's authority over weed testing. Praxis has suggested that state regulators are falsely accusing their company in order to protect their own necks.
“It is our opinion that this is a brazen attempt by the agency to assert that they should not have their enforcement arm defunded, and that it’s imperative to the safety of the industry,” a Praxis Laboratory representative said to Ganjapreneur. “The suspension documentation itself contains numerous inaccuracies and falsehoods, just in the first few pages. We are not here to be bullied by an agency with seemingly unlimited authority. The agency has opted to move forward with this narrative despite being presented with evidence to the alternative.”
“This is a clear cut case of agency overreach and libel and we will be pursuing legal action immediately and have already started the appeal process in the interim,” Praxis said in their statement.