A week after Michigan regulators issued what is likely the largest marijuana recall in the state's history, the testing lab accused of producing unreliable results is suing the state.
Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North, located in Lansing and Bay City, respectively, filed a lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims on Monday against the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency; its director, Andrew Brisbo, and other employees, saying: "There is no public or safety risk justifying the recall at all.
"This case illustrates the extraordinary dangers created when a state administrative agency is allowed to regulate from the shadows without proper oversight by a neutral, detached decision maker and, worst of all, motivated at least in part by what appears to be the whims and political objectives of its director and employees," the labs say in the more than 200-page lawsuit.
Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North are represented by David Russell and Brandon Schumacher of the law firm Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith in Lansing and Kevin Blair, an attorney at the Detroit law firm Honigman.
A spokesperson for the Marijuana Regulatory Agency said the agency can't comment on pending litigation.`
The MRA said last week it had identified inaccurate and/or unreliable test results of many marijuana products tested by Viridis Laboratories and Viridis North over a three-month period.
One way the MRA ensures a product's test results are accurate is by having other labs retest product samples. The MRA has not said yet how it identified the Viridis testing issues.
The health and safety bulletin issued Nov. 17 suggested there could be mold in the products, and said they should be retested for the microbial compliance panel.
The recall's impact was widespread. Viridis tests between 60%-70% of the legal cannabis industry's products, or about $229 million worth of product, the lawsuit estimated. The agency said the affected products either had to be retested or destroyed.
At issue is not the accuracy of Viridis' tests, the lawsuit said. In fact, its tests were so high quality and accurate, "the market responded by flocking to (Viridis) for its testing needs."
In issuing the recall, the lawsuit said, the MRA wrongfully targeted Viridis' labs out of "a desire to 'level the playing field' so that all marijuana safety compliance facilities would get an equal share of the cannabis testing market."
The Viridis labs also said in the lawsuit:
The MRA refused to follow well-established procedures that mandate licensees must have an opportunity to present their case to an administrative law judge.
The labs selected to retest Viridis' products were competitor labs that have complained about Viridis having a large portion of the market for testing cannabis in the past.
The agency knew the results of the competitors’ audit tests three weeks before issuing the recall, raising questions about the urgency of the recall.
The MRA’s recall included products tested by the Viridis Bay City laboratory, even though all products that the MRA said failed retesting were tested at the separate Viridis Lansing facility.
Viridis said it will have to stop operating depending on what happens in a matter of days, the lawsuit said, because it is not allowed to retest the products that are being recalled. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 1 on the motion to place a temporary restraining order on the recall.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Marijuana testing labs sue Michigan regulator over massive pot recall