DENVER — Thuy Vu, a Denver Public Health Inspector, is changing the edible marijuana business in Denver.
Not only does she go deep into local restaurants to make sure their food is up to par — she now also inspects the edibles at recreational marijuana dispensaries and the kitchens where they are made.
“We don’t really look at it as an infused product — we look at it as food,” said Vu, who, along with her team of health inspectors, has been making unannounced visits to metro-area marijuana businesses since January 1.
Thuy’s focus is to look closely at the edible manufacturing process from stem to snack.
“How they are cultivating the plants, asking them about different fertilizers, pesticides that they are using,” said Vu.
At most dispensaries, her goal is to look at whether or not edibles are being stored properly. Her team has had to establish new regulations for how edible products should be kept, based off federal rules that already apply to similar, non-cannabis infused products.
According to records obtained from the Dept. of Health, the new rules have forced dispensary owners and manufacturers to dump out a lot of product — including hundreds of boxes of edibles, costing manufacturers and dispensaries tens of thousands of dollars.
The most prominent example: Hash infused oils.
Vu says that oil products not being refrigerated when they should be — adding that to keep the products from growing bacteria, “We’d like them to ensure it’s being held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.”
One metro area hash oil manufacturer — who did not want to be identified — is not thrilled about the new rules.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said the manufacturer, who had to recall several of her products and dispose of more than $5,000 worth of edibles, though she says no one had ever become sick using her products.
“I’ve personally never seen a bottle of olive oil sitting in a refrigerator, so to me it doesn’t make any sense at all,” she said.
In response, Thuy says that most other oils sold at grocery stores undergo a rigorous inspection process by the Food and Drug Administration, which even the oil manufacturer admits would not happen with her products.
“When it’s an infused product, there’s no laboratories that would touch anything of that sort,” she said, adding that while the recalls are frustrating, she believes Thuy and her team are “doing the best they can.”
“Surprisingly, with this industry, they are extremely compliant,” said Thuy. “They want to ensure that whatever product they are producing is safe.”