Article by Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
More than a million dollars of medical marijuana has been destroyed so far amid the fallout from a tainted cannabis scare hitting the government-regulated sector, as patients’ fears grow that Health Canada has no way of knowing how big the problem actually is.
Canopy Growth Corp., which recently acquired Mettrum Ltd., said on Tuesday that it has written off about $800,000 of costs owing to a series of product recalls Mettrum announced starting in November.
Those recalls came after Mettrum was caught with a banned pesticide and known carcinogen in products that were sold in 2016. A former Mettrum employee told The Globe and Mail that he witnessed staff spraying plants with myclobutanil as far back as 2014, despite knowing the chemical is prohibited, because it emits hydrogen cyanide when heated.
To evade detection, he said, staff hid the pesticide in the ceiling tiles of the company’s offices when Health Canada inspectors visited the site, aware that the department wasn’t testing the plants for banned chemicals.
Mettrum’s recall is one of several to hit the sector after OrganiGram Holdings Inc. was also caught selling products containing myclobutanil, forcing it to recall and destroy several hundred thousand dollars worth of product.
While Health Canada has since attached new conditions to the licences of Mettrum and Organigram, requiring them to test products to prove they are clean, the federal department told The Globe it is not placing those same restrictions on the broader industry, which is made up of 38 companies – and is essentially left to police itself.