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Cannabis cultivators’ statements in response to Sun-Times-commissioned testing of legal weed

They say the marijuana they grew was fine when it was tested soon after harvest.

Reporter Tom Schuba with one of the samples purchased for testing.
Reporter Tom Schuba with one of the samples purchased for testing.
Brian Ernst / Sun-Times

Here’s how Illinois cannabis cultivators responded to laboratory testing that the Chicago Sun-Times commissioned that found some pre-rolled joints made with marijuana they grew didn’t meet state standards for microbiological contaminants:

Verano (Ataraxia): “We’re dedicated to providing patients and customers with an array of high-quality, safe cannabis products. Zen Leaf stands behind the product it sells, and we will work with customers over any concerns they have after taking the product home, always following strict product-specific protocols mandated by state regulations.

“As the reports provided to you by our dispensary staff indicated, the product lots cited in your report passed independent testing prior to being packaged, sealed and entering the state’s distribution system to dispensaries.

“Verano and Zen Leaf will never stop investing in our products, processes and people to continuously improve every aspect of our seed-to-sale operations to ensure that our cannabis products provide patients and consumers with the happiness, health and wellness that they desire.

“Two of our out-of-state cultivation centers have obtained Global Food Safety Initiative certification, and our facility in Albion began this intensive process in spring of this year. We also created an in-house analytical lab, with internal testing capabilities, to further enhance product safety and quality.”

Green Thumb Industries (GTI): “Green Thumb strictly abides by state testing regulations in each of our respective markets to ensure the safety and quality of our products. Each of these specific batch numbers reported results well within Illinois’ potency and microbial standards as certified by state approved, independent, third-party testing labs.

“In compliance with the state’s rigorous testing guidelines, all of our products must pass stringent independent, third-party laboratory tests and meet state regulations before they can be sold to consumers and patients. Green Thumb has consistently demonstrated its commitment to compliance and consumer safety and will continue to work with regulators to create a transparent and trustworthy cannabis industry.”

PharmaCann: “Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your findings. Providing high-quality products to patients and customers is our top priority. We understand that the lab selected by the Sun-Times may have returned a different result than when these products originally passed the state-mandated quality assurance testing during production.

“As you are aware, state-licensed, independent labs conduct rigorous testing on all our products before they are available to retailers. We concur with your findings that these products met the quality testing standards currently in force for cannabis products in Illinois at the time of production. The original lab reports you possess demonstrate this fact. At the time of production, these products were pure enough to pass the state’s stringent testing protocols for safety, including for microbial and mold contamination and pesticide residue, which we believe strongly in as a distinguishing quality between the regulated and unregulated market. Indeed, our growing practices are light years more advanced than any illicit-market cannabis grower.

“It is important to note that once a product leaves our production facility, dispensary operators take responsibility for the handling, storage and maintenance of these products. The conditions under which the dispensaries that stored and handled our products for the bulk of time between the two tests are outside of our control or visibility. We cannot speak for the products made by others, except to say that they, too, passed the necessary quality-assurance testing, and our own Verilife dispensary storage vaults are climate-controlled and dehumidified in order to ensure quality and optimize shelf stability for the products we carry.

“Whether and how you write on it aside, thank you for bringing this to our attention. It’s good for us, ultimately, to be aware of every aspect of this plant and how we provide it to our consumers.”

Ascend Wellness Holdings: “Ascend is committed to providing safe and trusted products to our patients and customers, as this is our number one priority. All products are carefully tracked and tested in state of Illinois-approved labs and receive a Certificate of Analysis to ensure the consumer that state guidelines have been met. The passing lab results we provided reflect the quality of product we consistently produce.”

Acreage Holdings, owner of In Grown Farms: Did not respond to requests for comment.