The BC government says they have found extensive evidence of pesticides, along with heavy metals and other biological impurities in cannabis seized from illicit cannabis stores in metro Vancouver.
Today’s announcement came from Mike Farnworth, BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Farnworth detailed how the BC Cannabis Secretariat recently conducted a pilot project to test 20 dried cannabis samples that were seized from six illicit stores across metro Vancouver by BC’s Community Safety Unit (CSU). The CSU is BC’s enforcement agency as it relates to illicit cannabis retail.
The samples went to a federally licensed lab for testing and results show 24 pesticides, along with high levels of bacteria, fungi and heavy metals in many of the samples. These samples were subjected to the same full panel of analyses to detect chemical and microbial contaminants as licensed cannabis producers are required to use. Twenty-four pesticide residues were detected in 18 samples, and only two samples contained no detectable pesticide residues.
The province collaborated with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health. The latter has an extensive blog post on their website detailing the results of this pilot project.
According to the lab only 3 of the 20 samples analyzed would have been deemed fit for sale if they had been legal samples, meaning they contained levels of microorganisms and levels of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead below the USP standards and pesticide residues that were either undetectable or negligible in terms of health risk.
“Of the remaining samples, nine would have been considered unacceptable for sale, due to the presence of various microbiological indicators of unsanitary production and elevated heavy metal concentrations, as well as the presence of multiple pesticide residues. Eight samples would have required further investigation to determine how pesticide contamination occurred, whether any regulations were broken, and whether any health hazard existed for consumers.”
One sample contained Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a water-borne pathogen. Heavy metal analyses detected unacceptable levels of arsenic in four samples; which could have come from direct or incidental contact with pesticides or pesticide residue.