The Marijuana Control Board voted 5-0 Friday to affirm an administrative hold placed on product from cultivator Calm N Collective until test results are available and the board directs further action.

A notice sent from the board on Nov. 1 told marijuana retailers to pull any product cultivated at Houston facility Calm N Collective, due to possible pesticide contamination.

It stated investigators "received credible information that the licensee used one or more pesticides on marijuana grown in this facility that pose a threat to human health. Specifically, the licensee is alleged to have used Eagle 20, a pesticide containing myclobutanil, which is stable at room temperature but releases a toxic gas (hydrogen cyanide) when combusted.”

At Friday’s meeting, Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office director Erika McConnell said the seizure affected approximately 750 packages at 44 retail stores and seven manufacturing facilities.

Three pounds of marijuana was collected and will be tested along with the packaged products. There are no labs in Alaska that can test for pesticides, so the samples are being sent to Washington state. It’s unknown when the results will be available.

During its investigation, AMCO spoke with several former employees who attested to the use of chemicals at the facility.

On Oct. 23, an AMCO investigator spoke with a former employee who said three brands of pesticides were used at the direction of the owner, Ronald Bass, and that was the reason he left the company. His last day was Sept. 23. 

Another former employee said he saw “bug bombs” being used.

A different former employee told the investigator on Oct. 24 that poisonous chemicals were used at Calm N Collective and that Bass told him to “get whatever poison will make the bugs go away, and we are not worried about listing any poisons because we are not going to do that.”

Security video from Calm N Collective on Sept. 21 shows a person spraying marijuana plants while wearing a suit similar to a hazmat suit and a respirator.

Bass says he believes the complaint is being made by a disgruntled former employee.

At Friday’s meeting, his lawyer, Jana Weltzin, said Bass doesn’t recall pesticides ever being used, he never directed anyone to use pesticides and he doesn’t know whether any former employee ever sprayed plants with pesticides.

Bass agreed that the administrative hold on the products should be upheld until the samples are tested.

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