MA: State Shuts Down Retail Sales At Medical Marijuana Shops In Cambridge, Georgetown

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

The state Department of Public Health has suspended retail sales of medical marijuana products at Healthy Pharms Inc. until further notice after a sample tested positive for a pesticide, officials said Monday.

The company, which has retail locations in Cambridge and Georgetown, notified the state on Friday that a sample batch of marijuana was found to contain bifenthrin, a pesticide commonly used in food products, the Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Registered marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts are prohibited from using pesticides on marijuana grown in their facilities, officials said. Healthy Pharms said none of the marijuana from the contaminated batch was sold to the public.

Valerio Romano, a lawyer for the company, said no plants were sprayed with the pesticide. Employees had cleared all marijuana plants out of a room in the cultivating facility to sanitize it with an off-the-shelf product,which contained a pesticide. Once they began using the room again, the plants were contaminated with residual amounts of the pesticide, he said.

Dispensaries are required to notify state officials within three days whenever a laboratory test indicates a contamination that can’t be rectified, officials said.

Marc Nascarella, the chief toxicologist for the state Department of Public Health, said the company immediately quarantined all marijuana that contained the pesticide, in compliance with state regulations.

Nascarella said the department will work with the state Department of Agricultural Resources, which is responsible for pesticide regulation, to “further look into the issue.”

“We want to ensure that Healthy Pharms takes the appropriate corrective action to prevent this from happening in the future,” he said.

Romano said the company looks forward to working with the state.

“The DPH is doing their job in making sure patients have incredibly safe access to medical cannabis … this is the department following the regulations to a T, and Healthy Pharms doing their best to go along with that,” he said.