Two prominent Oregon cannabis producers say they’re suffering collateral damage as retailers avoid products tested by a Eugene lab with owners accused of white supremacist group ties.
HiFi Farms and East Fork Cultivars learned late late week that several retailers had turned away products of theirs that marked as tested by OG Analytical. LTRMN, the producers’ distributor, said six out of 12 retailers that one salesperson visited on Thursday steered clear of OG Analytical-tested goods.
“It’s a nightmare,” Lee Henderson, co-founder of HiFi Farms, said. “We understand how people are feeling; we’re as shocked and horrified by these revelations as anyone. But it’s not hurting the lab to avoid our products. (The lab has) already been paid for the testing. All it’s hurting is craft cannabis producers.”
Both producers denounced OG Analytical and cut ties with the lab after reports of a connection between the lab’s owners and white supremacist activities emerged. The allegations were made by the anti-fascist activist organization Eugene Antifa in late November, and then moved into the mainstream media last week.
Henderson estimated it would cost HiFi Farms, located in Hillsboro, about $5,000 to retest products that were tested by OG Analytical.
“That’s a pretty crippling burden for something we had nothing to do with,” he said, adding that a market oversupplied with cannabis was already creating business challenges.
In a Facebook post, East Fork Cultivars echoed Henderson’s comments.
“We’re saddened that the labels of our existing product in the marketplace will show that it was tested by OG Analytical,” the Josephine County grower said. “Unfortunately, that testing was already complete long before we had any indication that the lab founders secretly held racist and hateful views and were affiliating with white supremacist groups.”
LTRMN, the distributor, was hopeful the situation would calm down soon.
“I think rational heads will prevail,” Mike Reeves, the company’s president, said. “Everybody is a little freaked out right now. People know that East Fork and HiFi weren’t complicit, but right now there’s just a very strong sense of not wanting to have anything with OG Analytical’s name on it on the shelves.”
The status and future of the lab is unclear. The Oregonian reported last week that CEO Bethany Sherman said she’s resigning and would sell the lab. Eugene Weekly later reported the entire staff was fired last Wednesday after a confrontation with Sherman and “sources inside the company say she … may not be resigning at all.”
In a statement to the Oregon, Sherman had denied a connection to neo-Nazi groups but defended her sense of “white pride,” saying: “I am proud that I am white, and I’m not ashamed of my heritage. And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could.”
In response to the reports about OG Analyticals, the board of the Oregon Cannabis Association issued a statement that read in part:
On behalf of the Oregon Cannabis Association we feel that it is important to respond to the, now substantiated, reports regarding hate and bigotry in our cannabis community. While we may sometimes disagree with each other politically, we stand united when we say that the cannabis industry is, and always will be, better than this. As an industry founded in social justice and criminal justice reform, we cannot tolerate, nor will we, those who wish to inspire violence, acrimony and racism.