Boats in Nantucket harbor you should not use to transport weed on to the mainland, because that’s against the law. Credit: Massachusetts Office of Tourism / Flickr

The conflict between state and federal cannabis law appears to have gotten in the way of cannabis testing in one of Massachusetts’ island communities.

“Based on the above factual findings and respondent’s inability to independently verify that its marijuana and marijuana products have passed testing for Mycotoxins, respondent’s products pose an immediate or serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare, and further investigation is necessary to avert the threat posed by its products,” said a state quarantine order issued October 18, 2021.

Last Thursday, Feb. 17, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission issued a recall order for cannabis products from ACK Natural, a vertically-integrated medical and adult-use cannabis company based on the island of Nantucket.

The state’s cannabis law requires that all cannabis be tested by an independent lab. This is a problem for island communities, such as Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, because cannabis cannot legally be transported over bodies of water due to the federal prohibition.

“There are currently no ISO (International Organization for Standardization)-accredited Independent Testing Laboratories (ITL) located on Nantucket. However, island licensees are still required to test products in a manner that adequately protects the public health, safety, and welfare,” said a released statement from the CCC.

“Until there is a change in federal law, current island licensees are at risk of legal jeopardy if they ship marijuana products by sea or air to test them through mainland ITLs,” added CCC spokesperson Maryalice Curley.

In lieu of access to independent labs, the island community facilities are allowed to administer their own, state-approved, in-house testing process. The problem with such an arrangement came to a head last fall when state regulators showed up and found that ACK Natural had allegedly failed to keep any records of their cannabis testing.

The company told the state it was using the TotalTox Quickscan II device to test cannabis, but it failed to keep any records showing those tests actually took place.

“The report showed that no analyses had been performed on the QuickScan II device between July 13, 2021, and September 24, 2021,” said quarantine order, referring to an inspector’s report. “It further indicated Mycotoxin contamination of multiple products that Respondent had previously represented as having passed Mycotoxin screening. Respondent’s report also indicated incomplete Mycotoxin analyses, contradictory Mycotoxin analyses, and omitted Mycotoxin results for products previously represented by Respondent to have passed Mycotoxin screening.”

While this is the first cannabis recall from the state, the CCC previously issued a cease and desist order against a dispensary in Acton, MA after a surprise inspection uncovered health and safety violations.

Representatives from ACK Natural failed to respond to requests for comment.

The CCC says that it has not yet received any reports of illnesses related to tainted cannabis, but ACK Natural had recently disclosed that it had completely sold cannabis products that may have been tainted before they could be properly tested.

“As a result, the agency is now elevating public awareness of this order as a precautionary measure so that patients and consumers who purchased marijuana and/or marijuana products from the licensee know that they should not consume them and ensure proper storage, or make arrangements with ACK Natural, LLC to return recalled products,” said a released statement from the CCC.

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...