Medical Marijuana Dispensary Caught Using Pesticide; Has Some Calling For Caregiver Model
Maine state regulators have found more than 20 violations at a medical marijuana program.The Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services said Monday that it found the use of pesticides in the growing of marijuana, the lack of proper security and the production and sale of an illegal form of marijuana.DLRS Director Kenneth Albert said that the investigation of the Wellness Connection began at the Auburn grow site, but was extended to all of the company’s facilities. Their investigation resulted in more than 20 violations, the most serious of which included the use of pesticides in the growing operation. The division identified nine pesticides being used. “Part of our agreement with the Wellness Connection is the requirement that all patients will be notified that pesticides have been used and that this practice will cease immediately,” Albert said in a statement released by the Department of Health and Human Services. “The use of pesticides on medical marijuana is not allowed by state law, as the harmful effect of pesticides when ignited and inhaled is not imminently known.” Albert said DLRS identified nine pesticides that were on marijuana that was used in tinctures, baker’s mix and all strains dispensed by the Wellness Connection. In addition, Albert said that the company was selling a product known as keif, which is not permissible under state law. Keif refers to the resin glands of cannabis, which may accumulate in containers or be sifted from loose dry cannabis buds. It contains a much higher concentrate of psychoactive cannabinoids than medicinal marijuana.The division says part of the agreement with the Wellness Connection is a requirement that all patients be notified that pesticides have been used and the practice will be stopped immediately.Meanwhile, medical marijuana caregivers say the violations found at Wellness Connections shine a light on the issues that arise from large, centralized grows and highlights why Maine needs a caregiver model. “When you have large, centralized grows, when you have one problem it will affect thousands of people,” said Paul McCarrier of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers Association of Maine.But McCarrier says their biggest concern centers around the issue of patient confidentiality. “Our biggest concern with this consent agreement is how the Wellness Connection of Maine has agreed to give the Department of Health and Human Services a list of all past and present patients in violation of that patient’s confidentiality to have that information be between them and their doctor. This goes against the intent of the citizens’ initiative and this goes against the intent of the reform bill in 2011.”Alberts says the DLRS will be “extremely active” in assuring that the Wellness Connection abides by the rules governing the medical marijuana program moving forward.