Ronnie Cabral was horrified to learn a few weeks ago that his vape cartridge firm’s California business license number and company name were being used on products that weren’t his.
He was even more horrified to learn his identifiers were being used by a distributor he hadn’t even hired to take his products to market – a situation that led to at least the fourth cannabis product recall in California since new testing regulations took effect July 1.
Cabral – co-founder of Ground Level, which is doing business as Atlas Extracts – discovered that Sonoma Pacific Distribution had sent roughly 600 units of a product called HoneyButter Rosin to at least 17 dispensaries that displayed labels with Ground Level’s name and license number. That was despite the fact Cabral’s company doesn’t have any connection to HoneyButter.
“It was just our license number. (It) was being used as basically the bus pass to move a product,” Cabral told Marijuana Business Daily. “It wasn’t a label that would have been used for our product.”
He said he had been in talks with Sonoma Pacific Distribution about a distribution arrangement, since both companies are based in Santa Rosa, but a deal was not solidified.
Somehow, however, the distributor wound up using Cabral’s state business information on labels for a different company’s products.
“We never actually did any business with Sonoma Pac,” Cabral said.
The mislabeling meant Atlas Extracts could have potentially been held liable by state regulators if, for instance, the product was found to be illegal or contaminated.
A case of mislabeling
MJBizDaily could not independently confirm if HoneyButter Rosin is produced by a licensed cannabis manufacturer, but no company by that name is listed as a licensee on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website.
“Everything we’ve done, we felt was in jeopardy,” Cabral said. “It was just simply a mislabeling. I’m not necessarily saying they did it on purpose. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened.”
Cabral’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter on Aug. 10 to Sonoma Pacific Distribution, demanding the situation be remedied. And it was, to Cabral’s satisfaction.
The mislabeled HoneyButter Rosin products were recalled from retailers, and the situation was reported to both the CDPH and the Bureau of Cannabis Control, said Stacy Hostetter, an attorney for Sonoma Pacific Distribution.
“There were discussions about co-packaging for some products, and there was evidently a misunderstanding about the ability to co-package, and the product went out,” Hostetter said, emphasizing that her client reported its mistake to regulators.
“(Sonoma Pacific) did everything they could to rectify the situation.”
The recall, she said, was initiated Aug. 15 and is “mostly complete.”
A spokesman for the Bureau of Cannabis Control – which oversees distributors – declined to comment when asked if Sonoma Pacific could face any punitive measures.
Sonoma Pacific could not be reached for comment.
‘Keep your eyes open’
Cabral and his attorney said they consider the matter closed.
However, he warned that other licensees could face similar situations because all the state’s cannabis companies’ names and license numbers are posted online by the Bureau of Cannabis Control and departments of Public Health and Food and Agriculture.
“Keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground,” Cabral said. “I don’t know how that can be safeguarded, or how we as operators can protect ourselves and our license number from something like that when we have to put it on every product that we sell.”
“It’s like tattooing your Social Security number on your forehead and telling everyone to keep it a secret.”
John Schroyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org