Marijuana companies are accustomed to dealing with strict governmental regulations. They follow them diligently, because one misstep could cost an operating license, and potentially the entire business.
What happened with Grow Depot and the Environmental Protection Agency is a cautionary tale, then. Because after an inspection went awry, the family-owned business had to pay a penalty of $27,500 — simply because ninety bottles of pesticides were unlabeled.
The trouble started when an inspector with the Colorado Department of Agriculture came by the storefront at 970 West 104th Avenue in Northglenn for a routine inspection but was denied access. Then, on May 12, 2016, the CDA inspector returned and was given full access to the facility. On that visit, the inspector found a problem: a few sets of one-ounce bottles did not meet the proper labeling requirements.
The Grow Depot is not a marijuana company; it does not sell flower or any products containing THC, but it does sell to individuals who grow marijuana themselves. The business offers hydroponic and organic products for small-scale home growers, items such as lighting, environmental controls for ventilation and humidifiers, nutritional products, grow tents, aeration supplies and other tools and accessories. Some of those pest- and disease-control supplements are pesticides, and they're highly regulated by the EPA.
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Like other companies,Grow Depot buys large quantities of the pesticides that home growers need but are costly to buy in bulk. Grow Depot puts the pesticides into smaller bottles that the growers can afford; this allows home growers access to the same preventative measures used by dispensary-operated grows.
When the CDA found unlabeled bottles during the on-site visit, the EPA got involved and launched an investigation into the company. It found that Grow Depot had "sold unregistered pesticides by repackaging pesticides for public sale in containers without labels," which violates the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The bottles the pesticides were shelved in did not have the required warning labels, Richard Mylott, an EPA representative, confirms.
The company was cited for four violations for the packaging issues and four violations for selling unregistered pesticide products.
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Last September, Grow Depot submitted documents to the CDA that included sales information for each of the four pesticides, indicating that the company had sold the mislabeled pesticides.
"We are not a marijuana business, though we do serve that community. We realize that every aspect of the industry, including our own, is heavily regulated," Grow Depot told Westword in a statement released through its attorney, David Beller.
"In an effort to make products more affordable and available to our customers, we made some missteps that ran afoul to the EPA's rules," the statement continued. "We are happy to have resolved this amicably and appreciate the EPA understanding that we did not repackage anything with ill-intent."
"Having learned this lesson, we will continue to provide for our community with the same high level of customer care, but this time with the proper warnings on every product."