Article by Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
As Canada prepares to become the largest jurisdiction in the world to legalize recreational marijuana, a federal task force has told Ottawa it should also require the product to be lab-tested, safe to consume and free of harmful contaminants such as bacteria, mould and dangerous pesticides.
That recommendation was part of a report released on Tuesday that will be the basis of new legislation expected in the spring.
The call from the Federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization for mandatory product testing and accurate depictions of potency on packaging comes after concerns were raised over a lack of regulations and consumer protection in the cannabis dispensary industry, which has proliferated this year leading up to legalization.
A Globe and Mail investigation last summer revealed that one-third of nine samples of cannabis obtained from store-front dispensaries in Toronto contained potentially harmful bacteria or mould and would not have met Health Canada safety standards, and posed particular risks to people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.
A subsequent Globe investigation revealed that Health Canada had been warned that dangerous chemicals not approved for human use, such as the pesticide dodemorph, had been found in samples of dispensary cannabis sold in Vancouver, although Health Canada did nothing about it, citing a lack of regulations.
In its announcement on Tuesday, the federal task force said it wants product safety and lab testing to be “a cornerstone” of the new regulated system.