Rocky Brown was hospitalized with MRSA pneumonia, which he says came as a result of working with pesticides at Houston Grass Farm. Owners of the facility were charged in the state courthouse in Palmer on Friday. 

On March 1, 38-year-old Ronald Bass and 32-year-old Lacey Bass who co-own Calm N Collective LLC and Houston Grass Station were charged in a Palmer court after alleged use of non permitted pesticides, according to an affidavit.

According to court documents, the Bass’ were charged with falsifying business records, which is a felony pesticide pollution, reckless endangerment and three counts of misuse of pesticides.

“Investigation revealed that CNC employees, at the direction and with the knowledge of Ronald Bass, regularly applied pesticides not approved for use on crops for human consumption to CNC’s marijuana plants,” read the charging documents. “Defendants failed to indicate in CNC’s operating plans or labels placed on marijuana packaged for retail sale that plants had been treated with pesticides.”

On October 30, 2019, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Alaska Marijuana Control Board collected samples after a former CNC employee reported use of pesticides to AMCO. Lab analysis of the samples showed that myclobutanil, kuron, cyfluthrin, and thiabendazole were present in high concentrations on marijuana plants. Myclobutanil is a key ingredient in the pesticide Eagle 20 EW, which releases toxic hydrogen cyanide and hydrochloric acid when heated past 400 degrees. Marijuana cultivation facilities in Alaska are required to submit comprehensive marijuana establishment operating plans to AMCO, and the CNC plans only listed FloraNova Boom and BloraNova Grow, two organic non-toxic fertilizers as being used on CNC plants.

“Former staff stated that marijuana plants in the facility were suffering from mold and fungal infections, and so Ronald Bass instructed employees to regularly apply pesticides to CNC’s marijuana plants. Employees stated that pesticide application happened once a week or twice a week, and that the employee who applied it would wear a tyvek suit and a respirator mask...Former employees also stated that Ronald Bass would send text messages notifying them when it was and was not safe to enter CNC, and would describe CNC as being “poisoned out” when the pesticides were applied. Employees reported having to leave the building at times due to strong odors from pesticide application.”

The Alaska Environmental Crimes Unit interviewed staff employed during 2018 and 2019 and reviewed surveillance footage that showed multiple instances of spraying plants with Eagle 20EW using an electric sprayer. One former employee took photographs of bottles of Eagle 20EW, floramite, and Avid 0.15EC inside CNC and posted them to social media as well as forwarding them to AMCO. A search warrant was obtained for Amazon records for Ronald Bass.

“Amazon records show that on June 6, 2018, an account registered to the email purchased DOW eagle 20EW fungicide, 16 oz control liquid formula disease control...The labels for Eagle 20EW, avid 0.15EC and flormite indicate that it is a violation of federal law to use the pesticides in manner inconsistent with their labeling. The label for Eagle 20EW states that it is a systemic fungicide for use of turfgrass, ornamental plants and non-commercial tree fruits and vines. The label states that eagle 20EW is harmful if swallowed or absorbed through the skin, that users should wear personal protective equipment to apply it.”

Packages were shipped to a former mailing address for CNC and paid for with a credit card registered to Ronald Bass. On December 20, 2018, another order from the same Amazon account was submitted for Sygenta 25837, Avid 0.15EC and floramite miticide / spidercide that were shipped to and paid for by Ronald Bass.

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