State health department spokesman: ‘We have not ever said it was an anonymous report’

Published 2:02 pm Friday, January 5, 2024

NATCHEZ — A spokesman for the Mississippi State Department of Health said Friday morning no officials with the department have ever said the retesting of cannabis products for pesticides was prompted by an anonymous tip.

A press release issued Thursday afternoon said an administrative hold was placed on a large number of products on Dec. 21, 2023, after the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program found discrepancies during an audit of Certificates of Analysis surrounding original test results for pesticides and mycotoxins completed by Rapid Analytics. An investigation into the discrepancies is ongoing. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program is covering the cost for all re-testing of products.

“We have not ever said it was an anonymous report,” Flynn said.

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The administrative hold on cannabis products involves those that have been tested by Rapid Analytics, a Natchez testing laboratory. Dispensaries whose products were tested by Rapid Analytics cannot sell those products until they have been retested, which Flynn said is under way.

Mamie Henry of Natchez, whose company Missla LLC is the majority owner of Rapid Analytics in Natchez, told the Mississippi Free Press in a story dated Dec. 22 that she received an email from the MSDH cannabis program telling her an anonymous tip prompted the retesting of marijuana products tested by the lab.

On Dec. 26, Henry told The Natchez Democrat, “I called everybody I possibly could and finally got someone on the phone and was told that the state received an anonymous tip that we weren’t testing properly.”

Henry was not immediately available Friday afternoon for comment.

Flynn confirmed this morning the MSDH cannabis program is contracted with the lab Steep Hill of Jackson for the retesting. Henry said the Steep Hill lab, whose CEO is long-time Mississippi politician and former state auditor Stacey Pickering, is Rapid Analytics’ only competitor in the state.

Flynn also said the department is working on contracting with another in-state facility.

Thursday’s press release went on to report the agency anticipates cleared products will be back on dispensary shelves soon. The re-testing process for all products under the administrative hold is expected to take two to three weeks, it said.  According to the press release, cleared batches of products will be released each Friday until all products are retested.