The Oregon Health Authority is issuing a health alert regarding marijuana products that may have been tainted with high levels of a pesticide and sold to about 130 people in the McMinnville area.

Oregon map Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Oregon map
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

The alert is concerning dried flower marijuana that New Leaf, a medical marijuana dispensary located at 3325 NE Riverside Drive in McMinnville, sold under the strain names Dr. Jack, batch number G6J0051-02, and Marion Berry, batch number G6J0051-01.

The products were sold to about 130 recreational and medical marijuana customers between Oct. 17 and Oct. 19 and came from batches that failed a pesticide test because they contained high levels of a chemical known as spinosad.

Anyone who visited the dispensary during this time frame should check the label of the product they purchased and immediately return any of the tainted product to the dispensary, or dispose of it in a safe and responsible manner.

The OHA “action level” for spinosad is .2 parts per million (ppm). The batches of Dr. Jack and Marion Berry contained 42 and 22 ppm, respectively.

Effects of smoking marijuana containing spinosad are not known. Those concerned about exposure to spinosad or experiencing health problems after using affected marijuana strains should contact the Oregon Poison Center at 800-222-1222.

“There is no level of spinosad that has been shown to be safe in cannabis that is smoked,” says David Farrer, Ph.D., a public health toxicologist with OHA. “Our action levels serve as a pre-market screen, but should not be considered ‘safe levels.’ ”

EPA has established health-based levels of spinosad that are allowed on food products. However, these “tolerances,” as they are called, have not been developed for cannabis and assume that the product will be swallowed as opposed to smoked.

The tainted batches were transferred to the dispensary by a McMinnville grower that had the marijuana tested by an accredited and licensed cannabis testing laboratory. The affected strains came from just the one grower and were transferred only to New Leaf. Strains with similar names sold at other dispensaries are not believed to have been affected.

OHA is not naming the grower because that information is confidential under Oregon law.

OHA officials are investigating why the batches were transferred from the grower to the dispensary, and then sold by the dispensary to customers, as the products were transferred with failed test results.

If a marijuana item fails a pesticide test and a re-test, the batch from which samples were taken must be destroyed. More information about cannabis testing can be found on the OHA website.

OHA offers the following tips to consumers considering purchasing marijuana products:

  • Read marijuana product labels. All labels must have the producer’s business or trade name and licensee or registrant number; the business or trade name of licensee or registrant that packaged or distributed the product, if different from the producer; the name of the strain; and the universal symbol.
  • Request a copy of the pesticide test results from the dispensary.
  • People choosing to smoke marijuana should consider the negative effects that smoking may have on their health.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at Oregon State University, spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects. It is used to control such pests as thrips, leaf miners, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants and fruit flies. NPIC also notes that spinosad is low in toxicity to people and other mammals, but it can cause irritation and redness if it gets on your skin or in your eyes. The effects of smoking a product contaminated with spinosad are unknown.