Regulators inspect big Arizona marijuana grower after chemical spill

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Copperstate Farms Arizona medical marijuana cultivator, Regulators inspect big Arizona marijuana grower after chemical spill

(This story has been updated from an earlier version to include Copperstate responses and state inspection reports.)

Health and safety regulators recently inspected Copperstate Farms, one of Arizona’s largest medical marijuana cultivators, after a chemical spill last month triggered complaints.

Douglas Cole, a company spokesman, said a forklift driver accidentally knocked over three to five gallons of a cleaner called “Strip-It” onto the floor of the fertilizer room.

Sixteen employees who were in the vicinity of the spill were taken to a local hospital as a precaution, company officials said, but no one was injured or admitted into the hospital. The spill occurred June 6, according to state records.

Phoenix TV stations KPHO and KTVK first reported the spill and subsequent regulatory inspections.

The stations quoted one former employee as saying she continued to feel ill and dizzy for days after, and another former employee as saying he had difficulty breathing when working in the greenhouse.

Copperstate general counsel Ryan Hurley told Marijuana Business Daily on Tuesday that local media reports were overblown.

“It’s a pretty common greenhouse cleaner,” Hurley said. “It was cleaned up accordingly.”

The Arizona office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality separately inspected the 40-acre site in Snowflake, Arizona, after receiving complaints.

According to state water quality and hazardous waste inspection reports, regulators observed such potential deficiencies as standing liquid near an open drain and an open drum labeled “waste diesel” inside the retention basin.

Company officials say they have responded to requests by the regulators to provide additional information about how Copperstate manages its hazardous wastes to ensure they aren’t discharged into public systems.

Copperstate Farms has about 348,000 square feet for cannabis cultivation and employs about 220 people.