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Medical Marijuana Grower Cited By State Over Record-Keeping

Seth Weing

Pennsylvania officials are accusing a medical marijuana growing company of not following regulations that require it to keep records about the plants it grows.

The state Health Department said Tuesday it ordered Carmichaels-based AGRiMED Industries of PA to stop harvesting or destroying plants outside the presence of an agency inspector.

The department said it found during an unannounced inspection on June 6 that AGRiMED could not produce records about the plants it has destroyed, or the required security footage of any plants being destroyed.

The state said the company can continue to grow marijuana but may not perform trimming or harvesting without an inspector watching, and it is not allowed to turn off security equipment without the agency's written OK.

John Collins, director of the Pennsylvania Office of Medical Marijuana, said AGRiMED has "substantial issues" with security.

Collins wrote in a letter dated Monday that the company's "flagrant disregard" for the state medical marijuana law's requirements makes it appear "that, at the least, the marijuana plants at issue were grossly mismanaged and, at worst, that they may have been diverted."

Concerns that medical marijuana could be diverted to the black market was addressed in the legislation by a mandated system to track it, starting with the seeds.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said the company recently entered into a management service agreement with Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation Inc. to run the grow facility.

Alex Howe, Harvest's head of corporate communications, said the company found "numerous inaccuracies" in the letter from the state.

"We take all matters of compliance seriously and are fully committed to working closely with the department to ensure safety and quality for the patients we serve in Pennsylvania," Howe said in a Wednesday email.

The Health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, said in a statement that her department will not tolerate lapses in security.

"Patients and communities are relying on us to ensure their medication is grown and processed in a safe, secure location, and we take that responsibility very seriously," Levine said.

The Health Department said the company was issued a permit to grow and process marijuana two years ago and began operations in February 2018.

Its processing equipment has not become operational, so while the Greene County facility is growing marijuana, it is not shipping it for sale at dispensaries.