At least four Durango cannabis companies may have pulled dried flower product from their shelves this week after a cultivator recalled “dry marijuana plant material” found with “elevated yeast or mold counts,” according to a Denver-based public health agency.
A public release from the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment said 144 retail cannabis stores, 11 manufacturing facilities and three cultivation companies around the state may have received “flower, shake, trim and pre-rolls” that “were evaluated and contained potentially unsafe levels of yeast/mold” from Denver-based Bonsai Cultivation, according to the release.
Yeast and mold can grow on cannabis in damp conditions and create toxins that can be lethal, according to the Cannabis Industry Journal. “Once a patient smokes and/or ingests cannabis with mold, the toxins and/or spores can thrive inside the lungs and body,” according to the media organization.
Bonsai Cultivation did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The four Durango dispensaries listed in a release about the recall include:
Colorado Grow Co., 965½ Main Ave. Durango Organics, 37 County Road 232.Durango Rec Room, 145 E. College Drive.Mountain Annie’s, 1644 County Road 203.Pat Dalton, owner of the Durango Rec Room, said his business sold Bonsai Cultivation products but did not receive any of the batches listed in the Bonsai Cultivation recall. “We were lucky,” he said.
Durango Rec Room, since it opened about five years ago, has not had to destroy or return product because of contamination, Dalton said. Part of the reason he hasn’t received a bad batch is luck, he said, but much can be attributed to regulations and regulators.
Colorado has some of the strictest regulations for marijuana grows and sales in the country, Dalton said. The rules keep cannabis business owners “on their toes,” he said.
“Colorado has got this stuff buttoned down,” Dalton said. “They keep a really, really close eye. That’s why we haven’t gotten bad product – they do it right. Colorado doesn’t mess around.”
Colorado Grow Co. declined to comment; a manager at Mountain Annie’s referred The Durango Herald to corporate headquarters in Ridgway, which did not respond to a request for comment; and Durango Organics representatives were unavailable Tuesday for comment.
Richard Pruckler, a supervisor with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, said the food and cannabis regulators at the city agency work closely with state employees to enforce rules and ensure contaminated cannabis stays off the market.
Colorado rules have evolved since Amendment 64 legalized marijuana statewide, said Pruckler, who has been working with cannabis since 2014. Regulators in early years sought recalls for over-contamination of pesticides, but the trend has since shifted to yeast and mold contamination, he said.
At least two other Denver-based cannabis companies issued recalls this year because of yeast and mold contamination, according to the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.
“The cannabis industry is very innovative and forward thinking; we have to keep up with them,” Pruckler said. “New products means new issues, and that means new rules. First, we started seeing pesticides, then we started seeing newer things like novel use, like inhalers and suppositories, the vaping stuff we’re seeing now in the news – we’re just learning about what’s in those products and it takes time for science and policy to catch up.”