Health Canada Rushes to Correct Lack of Pesticide Testing for Cannabis

Article by David Brown, Lift News

Health Canada rushes to correct lack of pesticide testing for cannabis After several recent product recalls, Health Canada rushed to put in place new testing limits and standards for licensed producers of medical cannabis

New testing limits for pesticides are causing some frustration for producers and labs who say these limits are being set retroactively, reflecting poorly on an industry with a reputation for otherwise robust regulations.

In the wake of pesticide-related recalls from OrganiGram and Mettrum late last year and early this year, Health Canada recently announced new surprise testing for all licensed producers, as well as required testing for organigram and mettrum. Then, after Health Canada released the results of their spot-testing, showing trace amounts of pesticides on leaf samples from one producer, the regulator announced new required testing for all licensed producers.

As of May 17, there are currently only 17 approved pest control products for cannabis allowed by Health Canada, and all other products are entirely disallowed. The testing limits for all unauthorized products are being set at the lowest possible detectable levels based on currently available technology. Reportedly, Health Canada has now informed some licensed producers that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency Laboratory (PMRA) is using a reporting limit of 0.01 parts per million (ppm) for reporting pesticide residues found in fresh marihuana leaves, dried cannabis and cannabis oil.

However, the agency says in some instances, the reporting limits could be higher due to a number of factors such as: the characteristics of the active ingredient, the nature and complexity of the sample matrix, instrument sensitivity and analytical methodology. The PMRA is who Health Canada will use to verify the samples the regulator takes from various facilities to ensure compliance.

For reference, one ppm is one part in one million. 0.01 ppm is ten parts per billion (ppb). One ppm is comparable to one second in 11.5 days or four drops of ink in one 55-gallon barrel of water. Not all laboratories currently approved to test cannabis in Canada are able to provide a full pesticide array down to this level.

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