Denver warning issued over Aspen pot capsules
Concerns over the manufacturing process prompted a Denver health agency on Friday to warn consumers about a marijuana-related edible product made in Aspen.
The Denver Department of Environmental Health removed Rx Green’s Autopilots Omega 3 & THC capsules from the shelves of Denver dispensaries and destroyed them, said Danica Lee, the department’s food safety section manager. The agency warned consumers to destroy any of the product made before Sept. 17, according to a statement.
However, no reports of illness caused by the product have been reported, and neither the city of Aspen nor the state of Colorado issued warnings about it. Denver’s rules concerning edible marijuana products are not the same as the state’s rules, which the city of Aspen recognizes, said Rachel Burmeister, the city’s environmental health specialist.
The “city of Aspen does not have enough evidence to consider this a public-health threat at this time,” Burmeister said in a statement.
The Denver agency’s concerns surfaced after officials found the Autopilots capsules being stored without refrigeration at Denver dispensaries, Lee said. When a plant-oil-derived product made to be eaten is not refrigerated or manufactured using certain procedures, the agency becomes concerned that the bacteria that cause botulism might form, she said.
There is not enough research to determine how big a threat botulism is in cannabis-related edibles, but the city’s Environmental Health Department prefers to err on the side of caution, Lee said.
So, officials contacted Rx Green and asked about the manufacturing process, she said. They received a list of operating procedures and manufacturing logs that didn’t satisfy their concerns, Lee said. They then called Rx Green back and told them that, which prompted Rx Green to say it had sent the wrong list and would send another set of procedures, Lee said.
However, that set of procedures didn’t match the manufacturing logs provided with the first list, and the agency issued the consumer warning, Lee said.
Rx Green changed its manufacturing procedures as of Sept. 20, according to logs it has since provided the Denver agency, and the product will be allowed back into Denver dispensaries, she said. Rx Green made the manufacturing changes between Sept. 17 and Sept. 20 and didn’t produce any product during those days, Lee said.
The city of Aspen’s Local Licensing Authority on Sept. 15 approved an application to transfer ownership of Rx Green from Josh Meacham of Snowmass Village to Steve Garcia of Aspen. Garcia, who was Meacham’s business manager, bought the business for $15,000.
The ownership transfer won’t be official until it is approved by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, which hasn’t happened yet, Burmeister said.
A phone message left Tuesday for Garcia was not returned. No one answered the door Tuesday at Rx Green’s manufacturing facility at 730 E. Cooper Ave., and a man there who refused to identify himself ordered a reporter to leave the building.
A week before the ownership change, Meacham was charged with two counts of felony theft on suspicion of selling fake New Mexico elk hunting permits over the Internet. Meacham could not run a marijuana-related business if he was convicted of felony charges under state law.
Garcia told The Aspen Times on Sept. 15 that Meacham’s legal problems had nothing to do with the transfer and that the move had been planned for months.
The Local Licensing Authority hesitated to give Meacham a manufacturer’s license in January because he didn’t report previous brushes with the law on his application. He later explained himself, and the authority unanimously granted the license.
A message seeking comment from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division was not returned Tuesday.
Rx Green has an infused-product license in Aspen, which means it can make any number of marijuana-related products, said Linda Manning, Aspen city clerk.
Rest areas and recreation facilities along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, including boat put-ins, trails and the paved bike path, have been routinely closed to nonpermit public use during flash flood watches.
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