A cannabis testing site is pursuing legal action against the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MMRA) after their work had been subject to one of the most extensive recalls in the Michigan cannabis industry’s three-year history, as reported by The Detroit News.
The testing facility Viridis Laboratories said the recall of over 60% of the state’s on-shelf marijuana items were “unjustified, prejudiced and retaliatory,” according to a 200-page complaint filed Monday, November 22, in the Michigan Court of Claims.
The seizure caused a $229 million disruption in the market, as reported by the suit.
The MMRA announced the recall a week before the suit was filed and has said it cannot comment on the pending litigation.
The facility’s CEO, Greg Michaud, served with the state’s police force for 25 years and retired from the organization as director of the forensic science division in 2016.
The lab’s research and development leader is Michele Glinn, a toxicologist and former program coordinator for the Michigan State Police crime labs.
Attorney David Russell expressed that the state agency’s action was part of a “prolonged campaign of harassment aimed at Viridis.”
The company’s other attorney, Kevin Blaire, said the agency interrupted the industry while disregarding “industry experts” and “widely accepted scientific practices.”
“There is no public health or safety risk justifying the recall at all, and we respectfully request the Court to provide relief to Viridis and bring accountability and oversight to an agency that has far exceeded its authority,” Blair said in a statement.
The lawsuit requested injunctions against the recall, citing procedural and substantive due process rights and equal protection rights violations.
It also asks a ruling that finds a civil conspiracy, abuse of process, and an absence of authority to “summarily restrict” licenses at the agency.
Around the same time that Viridis announced their lawsuit, Senator Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee chairman, commented on the suit.
“Any time a government agency takes action like this, it is important for the public to understand the basis of these decisions and know how your agency came to the conclusion that it did,” Nesbit said.
The senator said he was asking for information from the MMRA on the recall, including what led to the decision, a timeline for the investigation’s completion, the data used to justify the seizure, and the agency’s communication of the issue to licensees.
Nesbitt clocked the quantity of recalled product at 65,000 pounds, but state regulators have been hesitant to quantify any amount.
“With a highly regulated industry such as this, your agency has considerable power to impact the operations of Michigan businesses and the choices available to consumers,” Nesbitt said.
The MMRA recalled products at about 403 recreational and medicinal sales locations.
They said the seizure was prompted by “inaccurate and/or unreliable results of products tested” by safety compliance facilities at Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North.
However, the mass confiscation did not include inhalable cannabis concentrate products, such as distillate, live resin, or vape cartridges.
Products affected were examined between August 10 and November 6. State regulators advised that the items should be appropriately disposed of or retested.
In the recall notice, the MMRA said the possible ramifications from the products include health-related complications such as aspergillosis, an infection caused by a classification of mold, amidst individuals with weakened immune systems.
The lawsuit claims that the company should have pleaded its case before state regulators shut down laboratories before an administrative law judge.
Viridis stated in the lawsuit that the MMRA also used “competitors” to audit Viridis and “moved the goalposts” when the company attempted to fix the situation.
The suit also expressed that the recall was overly broad and included products that had not tested for aspergillus, including items at the company’s Bay City location.
The MMRA is responsible for overseeing and regulating the cannabis market in Michigan. Last October, the agency stated it would begin overseeing Delta 8-THC products.
In August, the state awarded a $16 million grant for cannabis research for veterans with PTSD.
The pending case between the MMRA and Virdis is still ongoing.