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State Investigators Find Dangerous Additives on Seized Marijuana Products

Bowl of marijuana | Getty images
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State and local regulators are overwhelmed and outgunned when it comes to closing down California’s poisonous pot pipeline.
S10 E6: Cannabis Country

Months after a SoCal Connected investigation found cannabis products at some unlicensed marijuana shops in Southern California contained potentially toxic chemicals, authorities said a sampling of products seized during recent raids at more than 40 illegal stores contained dangerous additives.

The raids by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control resulted in 125 arrests, the seizure of more than 10,000 illegal vape pens, along with more than two tons of cannabis and cannabis products worth more than $10 million, and 11 illegal guns, the agency said.

“The prevalence of dirty and dangerous vape pens at unlicensed cannabis stores demonstrate how important it is for consumers to purchase cannabis goods from licensed retailers, which are required to sell products that meet state testing and labeling standards,” said Bureau Chief Lori Ajax. “We urge consumers to scan the QR code to confirm that a business is licensed.”

In December, SoCal Connected reported that hundreds of illegal pot shops exist throughout the Los Angeles-area, far outnumbering legal stores. SoCal Connected found products from joints to vape cartridges purchased from 11 of the unlicensed dispensaries and delivery services failed safety testing.

The investigation, reported in the Dec. 17 television program, tested 36 products, finding evidence of the pesticides Fipronil, Carbofuran, Chlorfenapyr, Dichlorvos, and Paclobutrazol, which the California Department of Pesticide Regulation lists as pesticides that should never be used in cannabis farming.

During their raids conducted Dec. 10-12, cannabis bureau agents served search warrants at 46 unlicensed businesses, including five visited in the SoCal Connected investigation -- Save Greens, 11221 Venice Blvd. in Culver City; Westside Meds, 8940 National Blvd. in Los Angeles; and Culver Healing Center, 10955 Venice Blvd. in Los Angeles; Burdank 25 Cap, 10626 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood; and Green Door, 5522 Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood.

Tests conducted for SoCal Connected showed:

·      A vape cartridge at Save Greens contained pesticides including myclobutanil and paclobutrazol.

·      A vape cartridge at Westside Meds contained pesticides bifenazate, chlorfenapyr, cyfluthrin, myclobutanil, and paclobutrazol, along with lead.

·      A joint purchased at Culver Healing Center showed signs of six pesticides: abamectin, chlorfenapyr, daminozide, myclobutanil, spiromesifen and chlorpyrifos.

·      Flower bought at Burdank 25 Cap contained pesticides boscalid, chlorfenapyr, malathion, myclobutanil, Spinosad, spiromesifen, and chlorpyrifos.

·      Flower purchased at Green Door revealed the pesticides chlorfenapyr, myclobutanil and paclobutrazol.

The Cannabis bureau’s tests of a sampling of some of the illegal vape cartridges seized in their operations found that 75 percent contained undisclosed additives, including cutting agents such as Vitamin E, Vitamin E Acetate, Propylene Glycol, Polyethylene Glycol and Medium Chain Triglycerides. In some samples, the vape cartridge was comprised of more than 30 percent agents, authorities said.

Nearly all the samples contained misinformation about their THC content. One label included a claim that the oil contained 80 to 85 percent THC, which tests showed that to be 33 percent THC. Another label claimed the cartridge contained 90.66 percent THC, but, in reality, it had 40 percent, the agency said.

Some vape products contained a little as 18 percent THC, authorities said.

The Cannabis bureau recently launched a campaign encouraging consumers to look for and scan a QR code when they visit a licensed cannabis retailer. Smartphone users can use their cameras to scan the code, linking them to the bureau’s OnlineLicense Search to check its status.

Consumers also can check if a marijuana shop is properly licensed online at

All commercial marijuana activity in California must be licensed.

Top Image: ​John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

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