A television news investigation revealed that unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles are selling products contaminated with pesticides that have been banned by state regulators. The report from KNBC in Los Angeles purchased vape cartridges and cannabis flower from 24 dispensaries and delivery services in the area and found nearly 30 percent had traces of prohibited chemicals.
Reporters then had the cannabis products they purchased tested by Brightside Scientific in Long Beach, a lab licensed by the state to test cannabis products. The lab found that seven of the samples tested contained chemicals banned by state regulations that went into effect in July of last year, including malathion, bifenazate, and myclobutanil. Many of the chemicals banned by the state can cause serious health problems–including organ failure–when they are smoked or vaporized. The fungicide myclobutanil, for example, can release hydrogen cyanide when heated.
“Why would you want to put poison in your body,” said Hinaxi Patel, the technical director at Brightside Scientific, noting some of the damage exposure the chemicals can cause.
“You’re talking respiratory disease, cancer,” Patel said.
Contaminated Products Purchased from Unlicensed Dispensaries
During the investigation for the report, KNBC learned that all of the contaminated products had been purchased at dispensaries or delivery services that are not state licensed. At the time of purchase, budtenders at the shops said that the cannabis products were free of pesticides.
”Yeah, they’re pesticide-free,” a KNBC shopper with a hidden camera was told by a staff member at Burdank, a dispensary on Burbank Boulevard in North Hollywood. But the two Dank Tank branded cartridges purchased at the store tested positive for banned chemicals at Brightside Scientific.
KNBC purchased cannabis products from the dispensaries and delivery services after finding them on Weedmaps. About 175 licensed and another 350 unlicensed shops and delivery services are currently operating in Los Angeles, according to police. Lt. Abe Rangel of the Los Angeles Police Department said that many products at unlicensed dispensaries are not lab tested before being sold.
“We don’t know what kind of chemicals they used to grow this product,” Rangel said.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Cat Packer, the chief of the city’s Department of Cannabis Regulation, did not respond to requests from KNBC to explain why unlicensed dispensaries were operating in LA, according to the report.
A similar investigation of Southern California dispensaries conducted by KNBC in 2017, before state regulations went into effect, found that 93 percent of products were contaminated with pesticides.