Article by Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
Patients who consumed tainted medical marijuana from government-regulated suppliers are questioning how safe the industry is in the wake of several high-profile recalls due to banned pesticides, which have exposed serious gaps in Health Canada’s oversight.
After a string of recent recalls by Mettrum Ltd., OrganiGram Inc. and Aurora Cannabis Inc. because of the presence of myclobutanil – a banned pesticide that produces hydrogen cyanide when heated – a number of patients told The Globe and Mail they don’t see how Health Canada can assure them the product can be trusted. Revelations that the government isn’t testing regularly to prove all companies aren’t using harmful chemicals have left consumers concerned for their health.
“I think this has probably given everybody a wakeup call,” said Patty Wade, a Mettrum client in Trenton, Ont., who was prescribed medical cannabis for post-traumatic stress disorder. “When you are trusting a company to be healthy, you would have thought that the government would have ensured this.”
Last week, Health Canada acknowledged to The Globe it had not been testing product from the 38 federally regulated medical-marijuana growers to ensure they weren’t using banned chemicals.
Instead, the department said the companies knew pesticides such as myclobutanil were banned and the companies had been left to police themselves.
However, Thomas McConville, a former Mettrum employee, told The Globe he witnessed company employees spraying myclobutanil on plants to combat a mildew problem in 2014, even though they knew the chemical – a known carcinogen – was banned. To evade detection when Health Canada inspectors visited the facility, a Mettrum employee hid the pesticide behind the ceiling tiles in the company’s offices, knowing the department wasn’t testing the plants, Mr. McConville said.