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Michigan Officials Question High THC Weed Lab Results

Questions arise after Michigan regulators filed formal complaints against one of the state’s top cannabis testing laboratories last month. Cannabis that tests over 28% THC, and at times over 40%, is subject for an automatic audit, and regulators say the lab results aren’t adding up.

In May, the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency, (CRA), filed formal complaints against Viridis Laboratories. The lab, which is one of the most prominent in state lab testing, has retaliated with its own countersuit. Formal complaints filed by the CRA on May 19 revealed discrepancies found in Viridis Labatories laboratory results between December 2020 and now.

Many consumers are unsure about the THC content in lab tests. But, THC is not an indicator of potency. THC is the largest driver of sales of cannabis, and there’s a lot of pressure to increase THC levels.

“Potency inflation is an ongoing, longstanding, widely known issue across cannabis in the U.S. right now in legal markets … ” Lev Spivak-Birndorf, founder and chief science officer for Ann Arbor-based PSI Labs, told MLive. “I call it the cycle of potency inflation: people want high potency, so then stores are under pressure to try and deliver that … and that drives growers to seek labs that give the highest results, and thus, we have this rampant lab shopping that we have going on.”

According to CRA policies, any plant that contains more than 28% THC will have its results audited by agents. According to complaints, Viridis flowers tested above 28% THC 8.9% of time. This is higher than the average state lab.

Viridis was also subject to the largest cannabis recall in the state’s history. According to court filings, 64,000 pounds (or nearly $230 million) of cannabis were recalled by the MRA on November 17th 2021. The recall was lifted by Judge Christopher M. Murray of Michigan Court of Claims.

But Viridis filed its own formal complaint against the CRA in the state’s administrative court, while litigation is ongoing. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce backed up Viridis by filing an amicus brief in support of Viridis that said the CRA recall “unconstitutionally exceeds the scope of the agency’s legislatively approved mandate.”

Viridis officials say the claims are “meritless” and that they’re targeted because the CRA wants a more even playing field with the limited number of testing laboratories.

“These CRA allegations against Viridis are from last August and continue to be baseless, meritless and totally detached from science, facts and data,” Viridis CEO Greg Michaud said.

“We intend to defend our business against these false claims during the court process and show the vindictive and retaliatory nature of the CRA’s actions which are clearly designed to cause maximum disruption and damage.

“Court-ordered proficiency test results that Viridis is in possession of, which the CRA had been withholding, will directly contradict these findings, and we’re confident the truth will prevail when all facts come to light. This legal proceeding will allow for greater transparency, accountability and reforms to the CRA. Our hope is that the CRA can one day fulfill its true mission of promoting patient and product safety instead of unfairly targeting Michigan businesses trying to grow, compete and create jobs.”

MLive highlighted one case where a purported 40% sample of THC was challenged. The dispensary had flower with more than half the cannabinoids as well as 40.3% of THC. The Spott is a Kalamazoo licensed safety compliance lab that ran its own testing and came to a different conclusion. Spott reported that the flowers contained 26.4% THC compared with the claimed 40.3%.

Both are ongoing cases.