Wrap Up of Isolated DDE Contamination in North Central WA  

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July 10, 2023

To:          Cannabis Stakeholders

Fr:           Enforcement and Education Division Director Chandra Wax

Re:         Wrap Up of Isolated DDE Contamination in North Central WA  


I am writing in reference to DDE contaminants found in cannabis and soil from several licensee locations in North Central Washington. The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has received final test results from all of the investigatory samples that were collected.


Out of 108 product samples submitted, 61 products tested above the 0.1 action limit for DDE. Enforcement and Education staff have placed a hold on each of the contaminated products and will work with the licensees to ensure the identified products are destroyed. There were five licensees with administrative holds. As of July 3, 2023, all of the holds have been lifted.


Going forward, LCB Enforcement and Education Division staff will conduct quarterly testing to ensure product safety.


DDE Contamination Background

WAC 314-55-108 sets the action limit for DDE at 0.1 ppm. This action level was set by emergency rule in 2016 and permanent rule in 2017 through consultation with Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, and the Oregon Health Authority.


The detections of DDE were traced back to the same area in North Central Washington. The identified area was defined as a five-mile stretch of land along the south end of the Okanogan River and north of Lake Pateros. There are 18 licensees located in this area. In April 2023, Enforcement and Education Division staff sent emails to each of the 18 impacted licensees to inform them about the test results and the soil, water, and product testing that would occur.


There were five licensees with DDE above action limits and division staff called each of them on April 6, 2023, to tell them about the test results, educate them about the administrative hold that would be placed, request product records, and request a licensee-initiated recall. After, the LCB issued a detailed message that was shared with licensees, legislators from the area, local public officials, and stakeholders. At the same time, LCB staff met with state-certified labs, impacted licensees, trade associations, and partner agencies to ensure we were being transparent and responsive.


Enforcement and Education Division staff sought out the advice of colleagues at the Departments of Ecology and Agriculture as we developed a plan to ensure there were no contaminants in the products available to the public. We also considered the lab capacity to conduct these tests and collected a number of samples that would be able to have results returned within a reasonable timeframe.


WSDA Test Results

Results from the Dept. of Agriculture (WSDA) lab for total 108 samples:

  • 61 samples failed with results above 0.1 action limit for DDE (56%)
  • 47 samples passed with results below 0.1 action limit for DDE (44%)

The LCB has been working with WSDA and the Dept. of Ecology to support their processes for funding awarded by the legislature for grants for farmers and a study to consider alternatives including soil remediation.


We recognize the significant impact this had on licensees as well as the risk this posed to the public. We acted responsibly, swiftly, and intentionally. Our goal is to ensure cannabis products are safe and that licensees and stakeholders are informed as updates are available.  


Thank you for your continued attention to this important public health and safety issue.


Additional Resources