Legal Tussle: New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division Faces Lawsuit Over Product Recall

A local cannabis manufacturer, Pharmers LLC, has taken legal action against the New Mexico Cannabis Control Division (CCD), challenging a recent product recall. The lawsuit, spearheaded by attorney Jacob Candelaria, claims the recall was “unlawful” and that the CCD did not adhere to its own regulations during the process.

The dispute centers around a batch of cannabis products manufactured in fall 2022, which, according to Pharmers LLC, passed all required pesticide and quality tests at the time. The recall was initiated after a third-party retailer conducted a voluntary ‘shelf life test’ nearly a year later, which detected the presence of Malathion—a pesticide not listed as prohibited by the state.

Pharmers LLC’s lawsuit contends that the CCD’s actions were not only unauthorized but also lacked the due process protections typically afforded in such regulatory actions. The company is now seeking a judicial order to halt the recall and compel the CCD to issue a public retraction.

The Legal Arguments

At the heart of the legal battle is the question of regulatory compliance and the authority of the CCD to enforce recalls based on voluntary tests. Pharmers LLC argues that Malathion has never been included in the state’s list of mandatory pesticides for testing, and the CCD has not established rules for its inclusion.

The lawsuit highlights the need for clear and consistent regulatory frameworks, especially for emerging industries like cannabis. It underscores the potential consequences of regulatory overreach and the importance of due process in protecting businesses from arbitrary actions.

Implications for the Cannabis Industry

This legal challenge comes at a critical juncture for New Mexico’s cannabis industry, which is still navigating the complexities of regulation and compliance. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how recalls are handled and the extent of regulatory bodies’ powers in the state.

As the legal proceedings unfold, stakeholders within the cannabis community will be watching closely, aware that the ramifications extend beyond a single company and speak to the broader issues of industry governance and consumer safety.

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