Missouri made headlines in August when regulators announced that more than 60,000 cannabis products were recalled, the highest number of products recalled at once in any state with legal cannabis. On the heels of this unprecedented recall, Cannabis Wire sought to understand the landscape of cannabis recalls across the country, and it proved to be yet another area where cannabis policy is a patchwork.
What we found is that, from state to state, there is no consistency in how regulators are required to disclose recalls, or the reasons for which recalls can be initiated. For example, Missouri’s cannabis rules are thin on recall language, and note only that regulators “may issue notice of marijuana product recall to licensees or the public, if in its judgment, any particular marijuana product presents a threat or potential threat to the health and safety of qualifying patients or consumers.” The language in Colorado’s rules is more extensive on recalls, and clearly states, for example, that “no later than 48 hours from issuing a recall,” the following parties must be notified: licensed cannabis businesses selling the product, relevant regulatory bodies like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, local officials, and patients and consumers.
In other words, there exists no centralized or easy way to assess the status of cannabis recalls across the country. However, here is what Cannabis Wire was able to learn.
(First, a methodological note: For the purpose of this story, we only inquired about recalls in adult use markets in 2023. States that legalized for adult use, but have yet to launch sales, were not included. Nor were territories.)
The cumbersome patchwork of approaches.
Adult use states take wide-ranging approaches to publishing information about recalls, including some that require hoop jumping on the part of the public. For three states, for example, Cannabis Wire was required to file public records requests to obtain information on cannabis recalls. Another three states make those seeking recall data sift through broader news releases. In Illinois, recall data is tucked away in an annual report; further, the state doesn’t keep track of voluntary recalls.
It bears emphasizing that, as a result of the varying thresholds for initiating a recall, conclusions cannot be drawn by comparing one state’s number of recalls with another state.
Here’s the breakdown:
Alaska’s Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office is housed within the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. The one recall in 2023 was posted on the Department’s main page, under press releases.
In Arizona, adult use cannabis is regulated by the Department of Health Services. The state posts recalls under the Department’s Public Information Office’s “News Releases” page. In addition to publishing recall notifications, Arizona publishes updates to past recalls to warn the public whether the products in question are safe for consumption after follow up testing or investigation.
California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) makes recalls easy to find. Under the DCC’s resources tab is the “Cannabis recalls and safety notices” tab that directs to all mandatory and voluntary recalls.
Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is under the Department of Revenue. On the DOR homepage, a “Marijuana” tab redirects to MED’s main page. There, a “Health and Safety Advisories” tab leads to all cannabis advisories and recalls dating back to 2016.
Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which regulates adult use, does not have a recall page. In response to a public records request, the agency determined that it had “no responsive records.” However, Kaitlyn Krasselt, a Department spokesperson, was able to confirm “there has been one recall in 2023… but it was not technically a recall for the purposes of public health and safety.” Gwyniva, a flower product produced by Theraplant, was removed from shelves after failing stability studies. The product was tested after 60 days and the potency had decreased. Due to the inaccurate labeling, the producer removed this product from all shelves. According to Krasselt, Connecticut’s Policies and Procedures “allow them to relabel the product for accuracy and resubmit for brand new approval, as long as the product still meets all other testing requirements.” Krasselt confirmed “any recall that requires a public notice would appear on our website.”
In Illinois, the Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer sits within the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). According to the IDFPR’s 2023 Annual Cannabis Report, there haven’t been any cannabis recalls this year. However, according to the report, the data “only reflects mandatory recalls initiated by IDFPR. Voluntary recalls may have been issued during FY2023 by individual dispensaries.” The Department confirmed to Cannabis Wire that it is required to post recall data in its annual report, and that there have been zero mandatory recalls in 2023. Further, it does not maintain data on voluntary recalls.
Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy, within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, does not list recall data – yet. In response to a public records request filed by Cannabis Wire, the Department stated: “OCP has not required any adult use licensee to recall cannabis and cannabis products due to circumstances that pose a risk to public health and safety.” It is unclear, despite Cannabis Wire’s inquiries, where recall data will be posted when there is a recall.
The Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) does not have a recall page. MCA spokespersons directed Cannabis Wire to file a public records request to obtain this data. After seven weeks, Andrew Kuebbing, a public information officer at the Department, confirmed that there has been “1 product batch recalled in 2023.” However, it was a voluntary medicinal recall. Kuebbing confirmed that adult use recall data will be posted in the Bulletins and Notices page.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is the regulatory body overseeing cannabis in the state. Bulletins and other information, including recalls, can be found under Enforcement Actions. Tim Capulto, press secretary of the CCC, told Cannabis Wire “there have been zero recalls of cannabis products in Massachusetts in 2023.”
Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency lists all “Public Health and Safety Advisory Bulletins” on its “Bulletins” page, which includes recalls dating back to 2019.
Missouri’s Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR), within the Department of Health and Senior Services, lists cannabis recalls on its “Product Recalls” page.
Montana’s Cannabis Control Division sits within the Department of Revenue. Its Cannabis Product Recalls page notes that the state has “not had any recalls up to this point.”
On the main page of the Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board, the “Guidance” tab provides a drop-down menu. Under “Public Health and Safety Advisories” lies bulletins of all recalls dating back to 2020.
New Jersey requires some hoop jumping. New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission site does not have a page. However, on the New Jersey Office of Information Technology Open Data Center site, the Commission lists an Advisories and Recalls section, which states that “there are no product recalls or advisories at this time.” (Cannabis Wire confirmed this with the Commission.)
In New Mexico, the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) is housed within the Regulation and Licensing Department. According to Andrea Brown, a Division spokesperson, “the CCD is in the process of building out its recall process and strategy for implementation.” However, recall “information will be posted on the division’s website.” Brown confirmed an Oct. 26 recall. “The division issued a mandatory recall of all products from Golden Roots LLC. The licensee had its license revoked due to illegally obtaining cannabis plants,” Brown said. The recall notice, sent to all licensees in New Mexico, imposed a $298,972 fine on Golden Roots LLC, the amount earned while conducting illegal business. This large fine is the first of its kind in New Mexico. The revocation order can be found under “Enforcement Actions.”
New York’s Office of Cannabis Management has a page where recalls will be posted when they occur. As of Nov. 19, no recalls have been posted.
In Rhode Island, the Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR) is housed within the Department of Business Regulation. Elizabeth Beaven, an OCR spokesperson, told Cannabis Wire that recall notices would be posted as a “bulletin or announcement” on OCR’s Bulletins and Guidance page when they occur. So far, she confirmed, “there have not been any recalls of Adult Use Marijuana in RI.”
In Oregon, the Liquor and Cannabis Commission site has a tab on its cannabis page that states “Look Up Product Recalls,” which leads to all recalls dating back to 2017.
On the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) site, under the “public records” tab, is a page titled “Notice of Recalls.” Here, the LCB lists all recalls since 2016.
|State||Regulatory Body||Known Total Number of Products Recalled in 2023||Link to Recalls|
|Alaska||Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office||1|
|Arizona||Department of Health Services (DHS)||19||News Releases|
|California||Department of Cannabis Control (DCC)||17||Cannabis recalls and safety notices|
|Colorado||Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED)||1,619||Health and Safety Advisories|
|Connecticut||Department of Consumer Protection (DCP)||1||Department of Consumer Protection|
|Illinois||Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer (CROO)||0||2023 Annual Cannabis Report|
|Maine||Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP)||0||It is unclear, despite Cannabis Wire’s inquiries, where recall data will be posted when there is a recall.|
|Maryland||Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA)||0||Bulletins and Notices|
|Massachusetts||Cannabis Control Commission (CCC)||0||Enforcement Actions|
|Michigan||Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA)||678||Bulletins|
|Missouri||Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR)||48,536||Product Recalls|
|Montana||Cannabis Control Division (CCD)||0||Cannabis Product Recall|
|Nevada||Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB)||437||Public Health and Safety Advisories|
|New Jersey||Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC)||0||Advisories and Recalls|
|New Mexico||Cannabis Control Division (CCD)||1||Enforcement Actions|
|New York||Office of Cannabis Management (OCM)||0||Recalls|
|Rhode Island||Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR)||0||Bulletin and Guidance|
|Oregon||Liquor and Cannabis Commission||45||Look Up Product Recalls|
|Vermont||Cannabis Control Board (CCB)||1||NewsConsumer Protection Warning|
|Washington||Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB)||64||Notice of Recalls|
Here are some insights from the states with the highest number of recalls in 2023, in descending order.
Missouri had one posted recall for 2023 that resulted in 62,799 cannabis products removed from shelves.
On August 2, almost two weeks prior to the recall, the Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) issued an order of immediate suspension of operations to Delta Extractions, LLC. In response, Delta Extraction swiftly filed a motion to the Administrative Hearing Commission against the Department of Health and Senior Services to lift the suspension.
On August 14, the DCR issued one recall notification that included 62,799 cannabis products manufactured by Delta Extraction, LLC, due to non-compliant tracking in the statewide track and trace system, METRC. The DCR was unable to “verify products came from marijuana grown in Missouri or that the product passed required testing prior to being sold at dispensaries.”
In testimony on August 14, the Deputy Director of Compliance and Enforcement within the DCR, Brittany Kirkweg, stated there is “credible threat” of imminent harm to the public and the “investigation is ongoing.”
On October 20, the DCR issued an update to the recall, lifting the administrative hold on 14,853 products. The DCR verified that the THC was sourced from within Missouri. This left 48,536 products under investigation.
After nearly a month and four extensions, the DCR arrived at a decision. On Nov. 16, the DCR decided to revoke the license of Delta Extractions, LLC in order to “ensure the health and safety of Missourians and the integrity of Missouri’s voter-approved regulatory program for cannabis.” The violations range from the use of marijuana not grown in Missouri and incorrect security measures of marijuana on the premises to incorrect tracking of products, including falsification of tracking data. This revocation will take effect Dec. 2.
Colorado had 1,619 cannabis products recalled in 2023, mainly due to microbial contamination.
The reasons for recalls in the state this year ranged from contaminations (from total yeast and mold or elemental impurities) to adverse health events.
For example, a recall on April 12 for BBM Enterprises, LLC (dba Helping Hands Cannabis) led to 489 products recalled due to “Total Yeast and Mold, Aspergillus, and the elemental impurities Cadmium and Arsenic,” as well as batches that were “not submitted for testing,” or tested with unacceptable levels but not “decontaminated.”
While many recalls and advisories aren’t linked to adverse health events, some are. On June 1, Sima Sciences, LLC (doing business as 1906) issued an “informational notification,” in conjunction with regulators, for its 1906 Midnight Drops. Adverse health events for “elevated liver enzymes that may indicate acute liver injury” were reported to regulators.
As a result, Sima “stopped production” of this product and began “actively working with retailers to withdraw the product from the market.” According to Shannon Gray, a department spokesperson, this is an open and ongoing investigation, and therefore, regulators cannot provide information on the adverse health events reported, nor the number of consumers who reported the adverse health events.
Most recently, two recalls were issued on Nov. 16 for cannabis flower that contained unsafe levels of total yeast and mold and/or aspergillus. Products from both facilities “initially passed contaminant testing, but subsequently failed retesting.” The recalls affected Boone Farms, LLC, and Angels Farms, LLC.
In Michigan, more than 600 products have been removed from shelves.
On July 21, Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) recalled three batches of vape cartridges manufactured by Sky Labs, LLC due to “possible presence of banned chemical residue exceeding the established action limits,” which resulted in 339 total products recalled.
On Sept. 27, a total of 20 products produced by SBCMI, LLC (dba Shango) were recalled for exceeding the maximum allowable THC concentration per serving. During an investigation by the Department, it was found that each product stated 20 mg per serving, exceeding the 10 mg per serving limit. Additionally, during this investigation, SBCMI was unable to demonstrate to the Department that the products were “homogenous,” meaning SBCMI’s products had variation in quality, consistency, and/or characteristics.
On Nov. 8, Michigan issued its most recent recall, involving Armada Cannabis Co. Cannabis Apple Cider beverages. The recall was issued for the “lack of a necessary ingredient to ensure shelf stability” for 338 canned beverages with reports of cans that swelled and burst.
Nevada had 437 recalled products, mostly due to the use of unapproved pesticides.
On Jan. 19, the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB) issued a bulletin against Clark Natural Medicinal Solutions, LLC, for treating cannabis with Ethephon, an unapproved pesticide. Further, the CCB issued an updated recall on February 9 to include newly discovered products that Clark Natural treated with Ethephon. Another company, Circle S Farms LLC, also received a bulletin by the CCB on April 22, 2023, due to the use of Ethephons.
Of the 437 cannabis products recalled, one product was recalled due to positive Aspergillus fumigatus findings: on June 23, 2023, the CCB recalled Phantom Farms Dancing Monkey, which is a flower product.