BOSTON (SHNS) – After imposing a cumulative $800,000 in fines last month, the Cannabis Control Commission slapped a $120,000 fine Thursday on a cultivator and manufacturer that sold vaporizer cartridges that exceeded allowed state limits for ethanol to marijuana retailers and dispensaries in late 2018 and early 2019.
The commission unanimously approved the fine and a four-month probation period for Revolutionary Clinics, which grows marijuana and manufactures marijuana products in Fitchburg, after the two sides reached a settlement. The company said one of its lab technicians, who has since been fired, did not read the complete test results showing that the cartridges exceeded the state’s ethanol limit and therefore could not be sold.
“In September 2019, we participated in a voluntary dispute resolution conference with the CCC and subsequently provided a full account of transactions associated with reports of the excess ethanol and provided documentation that all customers had been notified of the test results,” Revolutionary Clinics said in a statement Thursday. “Patient and consumer safety were not compromised during this time and we accepted full responsibility for our shortcomings in 2019, as well as the fine levied by the CCC, which is now being announced publicly.”
Before selling the cartridges at wholesale, Revolutionary Clinics had them tested, but “only reviewed the first two pages of laboratory results associated with the failed product. The failed result for residual solvents in excess of acceptable testing levels was located on the fourth page of the certificate of analysis,” according to the findings of the CCC’s enforcement team. The company “did not have actual knowledge of the failed testing result until contacted by Commission investigators.”
Andrew Carter, the CCC’s associate enforcement counsel, said ethanol was present in the cartridges “because of the use of ethanol as a cleaning agent” in a Revolutionary Clinics’ extractor. He said the cartridges in question were found to have ethanol at between 5,500 and 9,000 parts per millions, greater than the allowed state limit of 5,000 ppm.
Revolutionary Clinics accepted responsibility for wholesaling marijuana products that didn’t comply with CCC testing requirements, failing to provide accurate testing documentation to retailers and dispensaries, and for not accurately documenting contaminated products. The company also launched its own internal investigation when the CCC first brought the issue to its attention.
As a result of the company’s findings that its technician did not read the full test results, “the independent testing laboratory revised its reporting so that results are highlighted on the first page rather than on the back page of the report,” the CCC said in the agreement.
The company said it hired a toxicology expert “to determine if a voluntary recall was required.” The company said, in letters it sent to the retailers and dispensaries that bought the contaminated cartridges, that “although the product did not meet the States limit for ethanol, the product did not pose a public safety issue.” It asked those companies to return any unsold cartridges for a full refund.
Revolutionary Clinics said its situation “underscores the value of METRC,” the CCC’s seed-to-sale tracking system, which flagged one of the Revolutionary Clinics transactions as involving products that had failed a required test.
“We believe the CCC’s continued efforts to reevaluate and improve upon regulations and reporting has been a positive for operators, patients, adult-use consumers, and the general public,” the company said.
Last month, the CCC fined Acreage Holdings $250,000 for its attempts to control more dispensaries than allowed by law, slapped a $200,000 fine on Garden Remedies for using banned chemical pesticides and also fined Healthy Pharms $350,000 for repeatedly using banned chemicals, according to the Boston Globe.
The enforcement action came during a busy meeting for the CCC. In addition to the usual updates from Executive Director Shawn Collins and a vote on the Revolutionary Clinics matter, the CCC agenda for Thursday called for regulators to vote on 45 provisional licenses, 20 final licenses, 10 license renewals, six changes of ownership, and one change of location.