Temporary Suspension of Operations
We started Walden Cannabis to bring to the market products that are sustainably produced, without harmful pesticides. We have a deep and abiding love of our planet, and the cannabis community, so when we started Walden, we had dreams of creating a farm that rotated crops, created biodiverse habitat, conserved water, and grew with a low-carbon footprint. As small business owners, we’ve put everything we have into making this dream a reality. Our employees have been integral to this vision. They are some of the hardest working, most passionate people in the industry. Many of them have been with us from our very first harvest and grown into positions of leadership. Some of them have met their spouses here, and started families. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and are proud to work alongside them.
Last night, we were blindsided by an email from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board demanding that we shut down operations, and simultaneously informing the industry of this shutdown. We had received no prior communication about this, and it has left us emotionally raw and scrambling to figure out what this even means. The WSLCB claims that in routine, random testing, of which we thought nothing because our products are grown without pesticides, that our products tested positive for DDE. DDE is a derivative of DDT, which was used in the 1970s and has since been banned. The WSLCB says that this is the result of environmental contamination, and not due to practices we have used. They have not told us definitively what the source is, and they do not know how widespread it might be.
We have asked for the test results and for clarity as to the situation for our consumers and our staff. The Liquor and Cannabis Board thus far has refused to provide these test results, telling us to submit a public records request, which will take thirty days or more to process. They are also telling us that they are going to conduct additional testing on the property. In the meantime, they are saying we are not allowed to operate. It is hard to understate how devastating this is as business owners, as we have always felt responsible for the well-being of our employees, and the consumers who use our products.
What is further heart-wrenching is that the WSLCB did not perform a thorough investigation of a business that has always shown itself to be open, transparent, and cooperative. Instead they chose to secretly conduct an investigation for six months, when they could have facilitated a conversation with us and allowed us to participate in solving the problem without hurting our employees and causing alarm throughout the entire industry. They did this under the guise of protecting public health, but instead it kept potentially dangerous products on the shelf for six months, and treated us like we were criminals, rather than the caring people that we are.
We curate, test, process and sell products sourced from businesses throughout the state, and many of these products do not have a connection to this location. Furthermore, today, after learning this, we contacted our processing partners who assure us that DDE can be remediated from any oil that may be contaminated. Beyond that, we are committed to being stewards of the land, and we are exploring fungi that can remediate DDT or DDE contaminated soil. We are optimistic that even if the issue is present on our farm, that we will be able to remedy it. We wish we had been given the opportunity and respect to do so before it destroyed our livelihood.
We have employees with small children, single income families, who are good friends of ours. They rely on their paychecks to feed their families. We do not know what to tell anyone about when we can open. What we can promise is that our core values are unwavering. We want to take care of our consumers, our employees, and our planet. We are hoping for more clarity soon and to learn more on how best to move forward.
In the meantime, we ask that you give us the trust that we will operate with our values at heart. The second we know anything more we will update you all.
The Walden Cannabis Family