Washington State cannabis regulators have stopped operations at several outdoor cannabis farms and processing facilities located on a former fruit orchard after testing found high levels of a dangerous pesticide used at the site decades ago, the Associated Press reports. The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) found DDE at the site, a byproduct of the pesticide DDT which was banned in the U.S. in 1972.
LCB Spokesperson Brian Smith said that while the agency is “very concerned about the jobs and businesses” at stake by closing down the site, the agency felt “it needed to get a message out to our licensees and to take action for public safety.”
Regulators last week issued “administrative holds” on 16 producer licenses and two processing licenses in the area, forcing them to cease operations until further notice. It’s unclear how many businesses were affected as companies can hold multiple licenses in the state.
In an interview with the AP, Walden Cannabis CEO Anders Taylor called the LCB’s decision “completely arbitrary” and said the agency has not provided him with test results or warned him that the hold was coming.
“Orchards used DDT for a generation, and that caused widespread contamination throughout the Pacific Northwest and the whole country, really. I’m still trying to process what this means.” — Taylor to the AP
The LCB is also working with businesses to determine whether products tainted with DDE contamination made it to market so they can be pulled from shelves. The agency is also asking the affected businesses to issue recalls.
This is likely to be the first time the LCB has issued an administrative hold related to the previous use of pesticides, and it is the first time it has issued a hold covering an entire geographic area rather than an isolated business, the board said in an email to the AP. DDE is not one of the pesticides screened for under the state’s cannabis testing protocols.
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