Sequoia Labs, a Sacramento-based independent testing facility, “voluntarily surrendered” its license after learning that its lab director had been falsifying reports and excluding more than a dozen pesticides from its testing protocol and results.
The realization came after state inspectors noticed irregularities among the company’s lab reports. An investigation by the Bureau of Cannabis Control found the culprit in the company’s lab director, Marc Foster, who has been terminated from Sequoia Labs. A new lab director has been hired.
In an Instagram post Nov. 28, the company wrote: “During a BCC inspection on Tuesday, November 27, it was discovered that pesticide testing here at Sequoia Analytical Labs was not in compliance with BCC regulations. 22 of the required 66 pesticides, primarily, Category 2 pesticides, were not being correctly tested due to a faulty instrument. It was further discovered that the Lab Director knew about this and was secretly falsifying the results in order to issue COAs from July 1 to November 27.” (Note: COAs are certificates of analysis.) The products associated with the hundreds of COAs issued in that five-month period are expected to be recalled, though the BCC has not yet formally issued a public statement on the matter.
"As ownership and management, we were blindsided by this," Steven Dutra, general manager of Sequoia Analytical Labs, told FOX40.
Sequoia Labs is one of five licensed testing facilities in the Sacramento area, and one of 43 statewide, according to the BCC.
In California, product samples are not transferable between labs. This means that any samples currently housed at Sequoia’s laboratory may not leave the facility to be sent elsewhere for testing. Distributors that had been working with Sequoia may identify new labs to send new batches of product. (Other states, like Florida, allow lab-to-lab transfer.)
The BCC declined to comment for this story.
Debby Goldsberry, executive director of Magnolia Wellness in Oakland and an editorial advisory board member for Cannabis Dispensary, said her company formerly used Sequoia Labs, prior to 2018. “For anybody who’s a business owner, that [Instagram] statement is irksome, because it’s the company’s leadership that’s responsible for anything that happens in the company,” she said. “I think it makes all of us nervous, because Sequoia was a trusted lab. … Is this the tip of an iceberg, or is it an anomaly? That’s the question on everyone’s mind right now.”
Sequoia Labs wrote in its Instagram post that the company is “already hard at work making the needed changes to the instrument and revamping procedures” in order to get its license reinstated.
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