Alaska officials are charging two cannabis business owners with misdemeanors for allegedly spraying illegal pesticides on cannabis plants, Anchorage Daily News reports. The owners, Ron and Lacey Bass, were charged by a state environmental crimes prosecutor with pesticide pollution, misuse of pesticides, and reckless endangerment. Additionally, charging documents show that a felony for falsifying records will likely follow the preliminary charges.
The Bass couple, who are owners of licensed cultivator Calm N Collective LLC and cannabis retailer Houston Grass Station, said the pesticides were sprayed by a “disgruntled employee” in 2019, who then reported the spraying to authorities. That report triggered an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation investigation, which ultimately halted the sales of any cannabis grown by Calm N Collective but the Houston Grass Station remains open.
The couple’s attorney Cindy Franklin — who oversaw Alaska’s adult-use roll-out as the head of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office but now works as an attorney for the industry — said this is the first time the state has filed criminal charges against a cannabis business.
“Every business in this industry should be highly concerned that there are prosecutors sitting there looking for something to prosecute them for, because this is a reach.” — Franklin, via Anchorage Daily News
State documents reveal Bass’s credit card and email were used to buy the pesticides. Surveillance footage showed employees wearing Tyvek suits and respirator masks. Unidentified employees said Bass told them to spray the plants because they were infected with mold and fungus, according to the charging document signed by environmental crimes prosecutor Sophie Stratton.
Three pesticides were sprayed on the plants in question: Eagle 20 EW (fungicide), Avid 0.15 EC (insecticide), and Floramite (insecticide). The combo resulted in a toxic stew of four active ingredients — myclobutanil, kuron, cyfluthrin, and thiabendazole — according to the report.
While cannabis producers in Alaska are required to test for potency and some molds, the state still lacks mandatory pesticide testing for cannabis products. However, growers must report any pesticides they use to state regulators. Documents say Calm N Collective did not properly list the pesticides on their labels or report additives in the Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance database, only disclosing the use of two organic fertilizers.
While Franklin argues her client could not have reported the additives if he did not know employees were using the banned pesticides, those inconsistencies led to the expected felony falsifying documents charge.
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