The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority wants to revoke a laboratory's operating license after a tip led to the discovery that the facility's leader falsified test results dozens of times, including in some cases for products that the agency alleges had unsafe levels of lead, mold and bacteria.
The Tulsa World reported on Monday that F.A.S.T. Laboratories of Oklahoma City and owner-operator Kyle Felling had a pending inquiry with the OMMA and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control over allegations of falsifyied test results.
Though both departments initially were short on details, the OMMA provided the Tulsa World on Tuesday with a copy of its request for an administrative hearing with the state Health Department seeking the revocation of F.A.S.T. Laboratories' license.
"The investigation revealed widespread, flagrant, continuous and willful violations that place the public's health and safety at risk," the OMMA's motion states.
It was not clear as of Tuesday evening whether the inquiry will also lead to a referral for a criminal case.
The OMMA said the inquiry began after the department received a tip on June 16 claiming that the laboratory — more specifically Felling — was falsifying test results, prompting an on-site investigation within the next week.
The document says the investigation in June and July uncovered about 40 instances in which test results were fabricated or intentionally manipulated. At least some of those incidents occurred with products that failed testing for lead, staphylococcus aureus, mold or salmonella, according to the motion.
Felling, who is from Arkansas, is listed as the email contact for F.A.S.T. Laboratories on the OMMA's laboratory license list. But the OMMA said the facility's license application listed another person as being the full owner even though Felling promotes himself publicly as being in charge. The OMMA approved a laboratory license for the organization in February.
"All toxicology testing data … went through Mr. Felling on QBench (a software system) even though Mr. Felling was typically in Arkansas and uninvolved with the actual testing of samples," the OMMA's motion states.
"In other words, Mr. Felling was the one who would complete and publish (certificates of analyses) in the system that would then be reported to F.A.S.T. Labs' clients."
The term "certificate of analysis" typically refers to the detailed test results laboratories provide to clients before products go on the market. Though the OMMA reported that Felling hired a lab director in December, it said Felling still retained "almost exclusive" control of generating and reporting those results.
Felling told the Tulsa World previously that he was aware that a complaint had been filed and was cooperating with the OMMA. He declined a request to comment further Tuesday evening.
Felling said in October that his company tested more than 10,000 samples and was able to adapt to a “heavy workload.”
But the OMMA described at least 15 examples this year in which investigators found that Felling went into the QBench software system to either change raw data or change the status of samples from "in progress" to "complete" without actually conducting a test.
"During the June 19, 2020, onsite investigation, Mr. Felling himself admitted to (Oklahoma State Department of Health) investigators that he had altered microbial and heavy metal results that were reported on (certificates of analyses,)" the OMMA alleged. "Mr. Felling did not retest the samples that he altered."
The OMMA also reported that on-site visits on July 17 and 20 revealed at least 26 instances between May 1 and May 13 where testing for residual solvents did not occur but were wrongly reported as "pass" on certificates of analyses given to clients — another violation of agency rules.
"Medical marijuana patients rely on licensed medical marijuana testing laboratories to properly test the medical marijuana and medical marijuana product samples to ensure what is being consumed and/or inhaled is safe," the OMMA wrote.
Meanwhile, a Facebook post on F.A.S.T. Laboratories' page from Aug. 10 asked Oklahoma clients to ship hemp and CBD samples to an Arkansas address for testing. The post appears to have been hidden or removed as of Tuesday after news of the investigation broke on Monday.
It was among the first posts on the page since June 17, the day after the OMMA received the tip.
Samantha Vicent 918-581-8321
On Twitter @samanthavicent