Massachusetts Approves $550K in Combined Settlements Against Cannabis Companies for Improper Use of Pesticides

On July 9, 2020, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission unanimously approved $550,000 in combined settlements against two cannabis companies, 4Front Ventures and Garden Remedies, for the companies’ improper use of pesticides on cannabis plants. Each settlement included not only an agreement to pay fines, but also requirements for detailed recordkeeping of pesticide usage, and agreements to submit each company's plants to additional testing. 

Under its settlement, 4Front Ventures admitted use of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and other pesticides at its medical marijuana facility, known as Healthy Pharms, in Georgetown, Massachusetts. 4Front purchased Healthy Pharms in November 2018. Prior to 4Front’s purchase, the Commission had detected pesticide use at the facility and in early 2018 issued a quarantine and cease-and-desist order that later expired once tests indicated the absence of unapproved pesticides. Following 4Front’s purchase of the facility, tests once again indicated improper pesticide use. According to the settlement, 4Front was aware of the test results in June of 2019, but did not disclose the issue to the Commission for approximately one month. 4Front Ventures has two months to pay a $350,000 penalty to the Commission, and as a result of the violations, sections of 4Front’s facility were placed under quarantine and the Commission ordered the destruction of many cannabis plants.

In Garden Remedies’ settlement, the company admitted to the use of unapproved pesticides at its Fitchburg, Massachusetts facility and modification of financial records to conceal pesticide purchases. Garden Remedies agreed to pay a $200,000 settlement, due to the Commission in September.

Cannabis Control Commission Chair Steven Hoffman noted that the focus of the Commission’s enforcement is to get licensees back into compliance with regulations and ensure compliance going forward. The substantial settlement amounts suggest that the Commission will take a strong stance against pesticide-related violations. Massachusetts previously shut down two Massachusetts dispensaries for selling cannabis grown at a facility that used pesticides that were not approved for use on cannabis.

Beveridge & Diamond's Industrial Hemp & Cannabis industry group assists cannabis-based businesses with state-level environmental compliance, product liability, project planning, environmental risk avoidance, and, when appropriate, litigation and defense against state-level environmental enforcement actions. Click here to sign up for our Industrial Hemp & Cannabis industry list to receive topical news alerts and event invitations by email.

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