Contaminated cannabis: State warns of pesticide in some Vermont pot

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 7:42 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:49 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A contaminated cannabis advisory as Vermont regulators recall a batch of pesticide-coated pot. Our Calvin Cutler looks at how the tainted product got into circulation and what it means for Vermont’s fledgling cannabis industry.

Last week, a Vermonter went to Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board reporting headaches and nausea.

Lab test results showed the pot grown by Derby-based Holland Cannabis, sold in five retail locations, contained the pesticide called Eagle 20.

“It’s approved in Vermont for certain products like apples and grapes but it’s not approved for cannabis,” said James Pepper of the Vermont Cannabis Control Board.

So regulators pulled the cannabis from the shelves and put out a health advisory.

I reached out to Holland’s legal team but had not yet heard back when this story was published.

Cannabis in Vermont goes through a lengthy regulatory process.

Dave Silberman is the co-founder of Flora Cannabis, a retail store in Middlebury. He says before any cannabis touches his store shelves, he asks for certificates of analysis from a licensed lab checking for pathogens and pesticides.

“We can honestly say to our customers this is tested, this is safe, this is quality-assured. You know what you’re getting,” Silberman said. “Without that, why are we here?”

State law mandates a sample of every strain sold needs to be tested before it leaves the growing facility, and once more after processing. The cannabis also needs to pass a product registration process, checks on labels and health warnings.

Pepper says not all of the products were fully registered.

“Had they made it through the process, they would have never made it on the shelves,” Pepper said.

Regulators are now investigating how the cannabis became contaminated and why it wasn’t detected by lab testing.

Despite a slower-than-anticipated rollout of the adult-use marketplace, this is the first hiccup.

Pepper stresses that going forward, the state needs its own testing capacity, rather than relying on private labs.

“I think this situation will hopefully expedite the ability of us to get that,” he said.

The contaminated cannabis will now be quarantined and destroyed.

The pot was sold at multiple dispensaries including Zenbarn, High Country Cannabis, the Green Man, Lamoille County Cannabis and the Capital Cannabis Company.

Symptoms of the pesticide can include rash, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and nosebleeds. If you’re experiencing symptoms, seek medical attention.

Regulators say you should also file a complaint with the Cannabis Control Board.