Oregon’s recreational cannabis market experienced its first recall of cannabis this month after cannabis flower containing high levels of pyrethrin was sold to the public. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) issued the first recall of recreational cannabis after BUDS 4 U notified the commission of contaminated cannabis flower. Samples of Blue Magoo failed for the chemical pyrethrin when tested at GreenHaus Analytical Labs. Several breakdowns of the quality system in each tier of the distribution system occurred for this recall to take place.


The root cause of the recall stemmed from the application of pyrethrin. This chemical is a widely used insecticide for soft-bodied insects and is considered to have low acute toxicity in humans or mammals. The fact it was applied indicates a need to eliminate insects. In no case should a pesticide be applied without cause. If it is necessary to eliminate pests, it is the responsibility of management to minimize the introduction of pesticides that will adequately eliminate the pest and preserve the quality of the cannabis.


Insects are foreign bodies that should not be present in cultivation operations when proper quality management systems (QMS) are in place and strictly enforced by all employees of the operation. Proper quarantine and Quality Control (QC) testing of raw materials such as grow mediums or nutrients should eliminate the presence of foreign bodies. Any outside materials that introduced to the cultivation room or greenhouse should be quarantined before being used and be required to meet quality assurance specifications that ensure contamination risk is eliminated.


Proper environmental controls ensure that the physical cultivation areas are maintained in a way to eliminate the introduction of pests. Requiring employees to change from personal clothing reduces the probability of inadvertently introducing pests from outside environments. Insect nets on regularly inspected external vents or air circulation systems reduces the chance for introduction of infestation into the cultivation areas. Regular inspection of physical structure for damage or deterioration reduces risks of outside pests being introduced to the operation. The preventative measures listed offer some examples of what can be done to eliminate the introduction of pests into cultivation areas, however sanitization between harvest batches must be performed as a primary preventative measure. This ensures that the room and all equipment will not be the source of contamination.


From a QMS point of view, the most serious breakdown of process is the release of cannabis that was not verified by approval of the operation’s quality assurance department. This harvest lot or batch should have been segregated and properly quarantined until specifications were met. It is the responsibility of quality assurance to certify that all products have met the entirety of the specifications, including pesticide residue, before releasing for shipment. Approval and verification of meeting product specifications before batch release is the most vital duty of any quality assurance department.


Not only was the batch released from the cultivation facility without being properly certified, but the distributor was careless enough to release the product to a dispensary without completing their own quality assurance checks to ensure the products in their control were properly tested and that all specifications were met. The dispensary is also partially to blame, but it should also be praised considering it initiated the notification to the OLCC and started the recall process. If proper checks were in place through the QMS system this would have been caught and the public’s safety would not have been at risk.


QMS only works if every aspect is strictly enforced and followed to the letter. Each operation has the responsibility to verify all specifications and checks are made when the health and safety of the public is at risk. Adherence and certification to the FOCUS Cannabis Cultivation Standard is an easy route that cultivation operations can take to ensure all products meet specifications. Recalls can be the quick end of a company, and meeting the guidelines of this certification is one way to ensure that business will continue to prosper. FOCUS Standards are set by leading experts in the fields of quality management and can help ensure the safety and health of all those receiving cannabis related products.



  1. Gunasekara, Amrith S. “Environmental Fate of Pyrethrins.” Environmental Monitoring Branch, Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sacramento, CA, 2004.
  2. https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/Pesticides/Pages/CannabisPesticides.aspx
  3. https://www.oregon.gov/ODA/shared/Documents/Publications/PesticidesPARC/GuidelistPesticideCannabis.pdf

I’ve been in Denver for about 6 months now. It’s an awesome place where I keep meeting more and more people in the industry. If you’re looking to get into the industry, this is the place to be, if you’ve got the hustle.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow chemist, master grower, and consultant, Christopher Sloper a few weeks ago. He came in to advise on some issues at a site I’m working at, and he brought along a few copies of his book, “The LED Grow Book – Better. Easier. Less Watts.”

In Christopher’s book, he describes LED lights, how they work, why they work, and finally how to work with them. His book, however, goes much further than that as he explains his growing philosophy.

The book focuses on the basics to successfully cultivate cannabis under LED lights. His Good Gardening Practices (GGP) set the tone of his methods.

The reasons why LED Lights are a win:

LED lights can be designed to drive photosynthesis and photomorphogenesis to levels greater than HPS while using much less watts.

Not only can LED lights deliver the proper PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) levels for plants, they also distribute the light properly by focusing the light downward, rather than in all directions. This reduces the wasted photons scattered into the open environment, and focuses the light on the plants.

LEDs dramatically reduce the amount of energy used compared to old High Intensity Discharge technology. Add in that the cost of electricity is only going up, and you again seal another reason to go LED.

LEDs are easy to use because of their low heat emissions, and take away the need to use expensive and cumbersome air conditioning units. A huge win!

Myths about LED Grow Lights

Christopher busts down the myth that lumens are proportional to photosynthesis.  To be clear, photosynthesis is directly related to the number of photons the plants receive. Christopher describes the concept of PPFD (photosynthetic photo flux density) which is the proper way to describe how many PAR photons are hitting a given surface of plant at any point in time.

Christopher busts several other myths about the perceived benefits of LEDs and clarifies arguments both for and against the new technology.

How LED Grow Lights work

Christopher explains the exact mechanics of how an LED emitter works. From the point of power going into device, to how photons are released, to how those photons are focused towards the plants, the explanation sets up the understanding for how LEDs function.

Christopher goes on to discuss how LEDs can be controlled. They produce less heat because they don’t operate in the Infrared (IR) region of the light spectrum. This leads to discussing if LEDs need tunable spectrums, and how this changes the need for gardeners to optimize the height of the light relative to the canopy.

LEDs do not put out the same amount of heat to generate the same light levels as other technologies, and therefore greatly reduce one of the most important considerations for properly controlling the growing environment – air conditioning.  This saves energy and major complications of installing expensive systems that may only be used for a short amount of time.

Safety also hits the radar with LED lights – the chance of killing your garden due to overheating caused by failed ventilation or air conditioning is greatly reduced, not to mention the chance of burning your operation down due to fire.

LEDs and Photosynthesis

This section is where a chemist or biochemist can geek out, where it’s explained how photosynthesis works when using LED grow lights. He explains the chemistry of photosynthesis, how the different light waves affect the photoperiod and light signaling for inducing flowering as well as the growth characteristics.

Choosing an LED Light

This is where it gets into all the details you must consider when choosing an LED light. This is a very important section, and I hope all readers would pay close attention to it. Making the right choices here will greatly improve your chances of success.

The first consideration is the size of your garden, and your gardening goals. Are you a hobbyist, small commercial, or large commercial gardener?

Next up, what wavelengths do you need? Depending on your needs, you can focus on specific light absorbing molecules within the plant, and thereby increase different growth characteristics. This is an essential question for truly dialing in the growth of your plants – are you trying to veg the strongest plants, or grow out the biggest possible buds? This section alone may be worth the cost of book.

Downstream considerations look into the physical construction of the LEDs. What is the beam angle that best serves your gardening needs? 90˚ or 45˚? Tall plants, or short plants?

Heat is still an issue with LEDs – you’re running electricity into a box that converts it to light, and no device is able to turn all that energy into light – some of it will be converted to heat energy. The LED you choose should have the appropriate cooling system by way of heat sinks. Making the right choice here will make a big difference in the lifetime of the light.

While HID lamps have a ballast, LEDs have drivers. There are different types of drivers – cheap equipment will have a resistor based driver that can easily break over time due to temperature shifts. Constant current drivers, however, can produce a completely different result – their output is not dependent upon temperature, which means that a constant brightness is achieved regardless of environmental temperature. This is an important consideration I wouldn’t have realized, had I not read this book.

LED Emitters

“Not all LED emitters are created equal,” and is dependent on the manufacturing process. Was emitter quality the manufacturer’s goal, or was it cost savings? Well, you can tell by paying attention to the BIN codes, according to Christopher.

LED Grow Light Designs

Christopher discusses the four different types of LED Grow Light Designs.

Single-Surface LED Grow Lights, LED Light Heads, Clusters/Rosettes, and Tube-Style LED Bars are all thoroughly explained, and the considerations for using each of the different types. Christopher tells you the advantages, disadvantages, and what to look for in each of the different designs. This is an important consideration, and will give you the knowledge you need before you drop the money to buy your own LED lights.

How many LED grow lights do you need?

Another very important consideration. Ultimately, this is dependent on your gardening goals. Christopher explains the considerations, and how you should think about the options that will make the best choices for your garden.

There is much information that fills in between the choice of the light you use and the way you garden. Christopher points out many concepts that you should be familiar with to successfully cultivate cannabis.

It turns out that Christopher’s gardening philosophy lines up very well with the goals of Orion GMP and Hemphacker – here it is in one sentence: “Quality per Harvest/Gardening Zen.” I love this! “Indoor gardening is about the largest quantity of the best quality you can for the least expenditure of resources.” Do yourself a favor and paint that on the wall next to your garden – think about it every time you face a decision, and ask yourself how that decision will affect the end product.

Skunkpharm Research LLC

I want to take a moment to give praise where it is rightfully due and shout out to the mad scientists over at Skunk Pharm Research out of Portland, OR. Graywolf, Joe, and Carla (Eloquentsolution) discuss the popular topics on the subject of at home cannabis products and how to SAFELY go about creating them. It is the responsibility of the readers to not attempt activities they are not qualified to perform. Being an engineer myself I completely agree with this point of view. We can’t stop others from being stupid and limiting ourselves in an attempt to protect the less than Einstein group of people – that is just going to be futile in the end.


These guys do a great job of not only giving abundant details on how to go about recreating their Frankenstein Cannamonsters, but go above and beyond explaining the science of the processes and the reasoning that makes it work. This is definitely not the norm in this space and most individuals just want to tell how awesome the contraption they came up with is, and how they made 3x the yield of any known process. Not the case with these guys, they are upfront, open, and honest about their creations. My take is that they are here to help spread knowledge and make the world a better place one extracted cannabinoid at a time. We actually have many clients that quote their research and have directed us to their articles when discussing various extraction methods and why they chose to go that route. It is very humbling to see so many people getting information from a group that claims to be experts of nothing but are obviously very gifted in the realm of engineering.


The subjects are generally focused on different extraction techniques and the methods to go about replicating them. Their most recent article was on the subject of health and safety highlighting the fact that small amounts of contamination can be a big problem when you get into concentrates. This blog is never limited in the amount of useful information it produces and the wide range of topics covered.


We look forward to many more great articles and hopefully getting to meet up with them discussing how many wrong directions someone can take or the fact people never fail to surprise you with idiocracy. Intelligence should never be wasted but ability will always be the limiting factor. For now check them out at Skunk Pharm Research LLC.


Don’t forget to check out Orion GMP Solutions for updates on GMP’s in the cannabis industry.