Maine's largest medical marijuana supplier came under fire this week following an investigation that revealed widespread illegal use of pesticides in a cultivation facility—raising health concerns for patients.
An employee of the supplier in question, the Wellness Connection of Maine, called the Maine Department of Health and Human Services earlier this month to report that the employer had been using pesticides on marijuana plants cultivated at the group’s Auburn facility.
Maine's medical marijuana rules ban the use of all pesticides.
Subsequently, DHHS investigators conducted a surprise investigation at two marijuana cultivation facilities, and in turn found several types of pesticides and more than 20 other violations of rules governing medicinal marijuana in Maine.
Paul McCarrier, a lobbyist for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, told the Portland Press Herald, "It's really a tragedy for the patients."
He said the findings show that Wellness Connection's upper management was "encouraging workers to be deceitful" to "people who look to them to have a safe, clean medicine."
To keep operating, the group had to sign a consent agreement with DHHS, said Kenneth Albert, director of the DHHS Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services, that requires the group to stop using pesticides among other conditions. However, it does not require them to take the tainted products off of the shelves. Wellness Connection will be allowed to sell the rest of the products until they run out, but must inform all patients who receive the tainted marijuana of its harmful contents.
Wellness Connection, Maine's largest medical marijuana supplier, runs half of the state’s medical marijuana clinics and services around 2,400 patients.