In a Show of Profound Integrity, MMJ America Reaches Out to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition and Clears the Smoke of Pesticide Violation
The mission of the Cannabis Consumers Coalition is to provide cannabis consumers with a voice in the growing cannabis industry to ensure consumer rights and ethical behavior on behalf of cannabis related businesses. A critical component in rating a business as ethical is integrity. Last week, the Cannabis Consumers Coalition released the names nine businesses who had received pesticide use violations from the Denver Department of Environmental Health. Showing profound integrity, Jake Salazar, CEO of MMJ America, reached out to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, and explained the situation surrounding the violation, invited Executive Director, Larisa Bolivar, to the facility that received the violation, and submitted to the coalition the letters describing and resolving the situation.
It turns out that what happened to MMJ America is what all employers dread, employees flouting rules and operating procedures, and then retaliating when they get in trouble. In this case, the said employee was experimenting with Eagle 20 on 99 clones. The employee, already in trouble for not following operating procedures for growing and using her own mixture of nutrients, was reprimanded, and eventually terminated. In retaliation, she called the health department, which resulted in the quarantine of the clones, during which MMJ America voluntarily destroyed the clones. Violations are often reported by employees, and some of them are indeed valid and not just from disgruntled employees. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition sent an open records request to the Colorado branch of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to determine if there are more employee complaints and the nature of the complaints, however, they have yet to respond.
“We came forward to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition because it’s important that they know the whole story. We had an issue here with a very manipulative ex-employee that we were very upfront with.” In regards to best practices and pesticide use, Jake goes on to say, “We as a company are looking forward to spending more time with them [Cannabis Consumers Coalition] on these issues to help better the industry for consumers and for businesses.”
The Cannabis Consumers Coalition is impressed with MMJ America as an organization. The plants are very healthy, and the organization uses many natural methods, such as predator bugs and dehumidifiers, to keep bugs, mold, and mildew at bay. The grow facility toured by the Cannabis Consumers Coalition was very clean and very well maintained. Jake is a very personable person and holds high standards for his business and for consumers. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition was so impressed with the operations and the openness and honesty that Jake exhibited, that MMJ America was invited to become Consumer Approved Merchant Partner™, which shows consumers that the business meets standards set forth in ethical business guidelines created by the coalition.
“As I walked in the door, I was greeted by a ladybug, and as silly as it sounds, I took it as a good sign, as well as an immediate confirmation that the business was using natural means to control pests. I was already impressed by the fact that Jake reached out to talk to me, no other business has,” states Larisa Bolivar. She continues, “I believe that integrity is the most important quality that a person or a business can have, and Jake and MMJ America have upheld that very basic standard that should be second nature in relationships. Because of that, I am confident that the organization and its leaders are doing the right thing by consumers.”
Incidents like this underscore the need for all businesses to be up to date on their standard operating procedures, and that the industry as a whole needs to develop best practices for a host of business practices ranging from management to production. Because MMJ America has a well-run operation, employees were able to determine that the violating grower was not using the nutrient and pesticide protocols followed by other growers and were proactive in reporting the incident.
It is possible for consumers and businesses to work together to create an industry that meets everyone’s needs. MMJ America and the Cannabis Consumers Coalition working together also shows that the industry is self-regulating, and that while some government oversight is needed in a market, businesses and consumer organizations can work to set standards and best practices by holding each other accountable, and then showing integrity when things are in question by being transparent and cooperative. There will no doubt be growing pains well into the next decade as the industry expands and matures. How businesses and consumers work through these pains now will set the precedent for how they are worked out for decades to come, and there is no better way to do that than through understanding and relationship building.
For more information, please contact Larisa Bolivar, 703-244-4857
Cannabis Consumers Coalition Obtains Names of Denver Marijuana Pesticides Violators and Issues Consumer Safety Alert Ahead of Hearing on Testing Bill
Denver, CO – April 14, 2015 – The Cannabis Consumers Coalition, a Denver-based cannabis consumers advocacy organization with national and international members, has issued a consumer safety alert after obtaining the names of the businesses who had their plants quarantined for pesticide misuse, along with the names of the pesticides in question. The Cannabis Consumers Coalition had sent out Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) requests to the Denver Department of Environmental Health and the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture did not release the names of the violators citing that they were not allowed to give out identifying information on open cases, however, Denver Department of Environmental Health, operating on different policies, released the records.
Pesticide violations were issued to the following recreational marijuana grow facilities: Mindful, Green Solutions, Evolutionary Holdings, Green Cross Colorado, MMJ America, Organic Greens, Altitude East Treatments, RINO, and Sweet Leaf. All violators were using Eagle 20EW, and petroleum based fungicide that is harmful to humans and animals. Altitude East Treatments was also using Mallet and Avid, both also harmful to humans and animals. Green Cross Denver was also using Mallet. Many of these violators are well known. Mindful, formerly Gaia Plant Based Medicines, is owned by Meg Sanders who was the only industry appointee to Governor John Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 Task Force.
“This is dangerous to public safety, and we need better testing policies that put consumer safety first. Retail cannabis is supposed to be tested for harmful pesticides, and there already exists a list of acceptable pesticides. This is at best gross negligence on behalf of the offending businesses that shows more concern for money than for safety. How many other violators are out there that haven’t gotten caught?” asks the Cannabis Consumers Coalition’s Executive Director, Larisa Bolivar.
Current laws only allow for licensed recreational manufacturers and distributors access to testing facilities, and there are no penalties outside of quarantines and the destruction of plants to hold violators accountable, which is the equivalent to a “time out.” Colorado SB15-260 sponsored by State Senator Aguilar (D-Denver), Senator Kerr (D-Lakewood), and House Representative Ginal (D-Fort Collins), will allow medical marijuana licensees to test; however, it also does not allow individuals to have their cannabis tested. The fear behind this that black market operators will bring their cannabis to be tested, however, that is unlikely because illegal operators are not going to risk getting caught by handing out their IDs and putting their information on applications.
The Cannabis Consumers Coalition and its members would like to see more accountability added to these bills. A cease and desist order does not go far enough when protecting public safety. There needs to be penalties for violators, such as fines for first and second violations, and then license revocation for third violations. There also needs to be a more consistent and expedited process for violations so that cannabis consumers can confidently know in a timely manner that the cannabis they are consuming is safe. Finally, it is only fair that cannabis consumers be allowed to have their cannabis products tested at independent facilities. Cannabis consumers are not being considered in these laws that are heavily biased towards industry needs. Public safety in all manners should be always be the first consideration, and cannabis consumers deserve to be empowered in their decision making and know that state officials have their backs when it comes to product safety.
For more information, please contact Larisa Bolivar at 703-244-4857. For more information on the Cannabis Consumers Coalition, visit www.cannabisconsumer.org.