Article by Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
A federally licensed medical-marijuana company recently caught selling cannabis that contained a banned pesticide had used the dangerous chemical on its plants as far back as 2014, which it hid from Health Canada, says a former employee of Mettrum Ltd.
Thomas McConville, who worked as a grower at Mettrum from early 2014 to August, 2015, told The Globe and Mail he witnessed employees at the company illegally applying myclobutanil to plants, despite knowing the controversial pesticide – which produces hydrogen cyanide when heated – was prohibited for use on cannabis.
To evade detection when Health Canada inspectors visited the operation, an employee at Mettrum hid the chemical inside the ceiling tiles of the company’s offices, Mr. McConville said.
The revelations raise alarming questions about Health Canada’s oversight of the sector, particularly since the government has not required the country’s 38 licensed producers to have their products tested for banned pesticides. Instead, the department told The Globe this week that it has allowed the companies to police themselves, on the belief that the penalties for being caught – possible licence forfeiture – were a big enough deterrent.
Faced with a growing controversy over tainted medical marijuana, with three companies in the past two months announcing recalls due to the discovery of myclobutanil in their products, Health Canada said this week it would introduce a new system of random testing for all licensed producers. However, the government stopped short of introducing ongoing mandatory testing to ensure the industry is not flouting the rules, saying it may consider that step in the future.
When Mr. McConville brought his concerns to Mettrum executives in 2014, including chief executive officer Michael Haines, he was told not to worry about it. Fearing for his livelihood, Mr. McConville said he kept quiet. When he left Mettrum the following summer, he was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement in exchange for severance, which he needed to move his family back to California.