A Canadian medical marijuana company has taken matters into its own hands amid a tainted cannabis scare that has left Health Canada struggling to reassure patients the products sold by federally licensed producers can be trusted.
CanniMed Therapeutics Inc., based in Saskatoon, has taken the unusual step of commissioning independent lab tests on some of its products and making the data public to show consumers that its medicine contains no banned pesticides.
The move is an effort by the company to distance itself from industry recalls over the past few months since three federally licensed producers were caught selling medical marijuana that contained the banned pesticide myclobutanil. The chemical emits hydrogen cyanide when burned and is not approved for any plant that is smoked.
Mettrum Ltd., Organigram Inc., and Aurora Cannabis announced recalls after the pesticide was discovered in medicine sold to clients. The problem was discovered almost by accident when Aurora tested a bulk shipment it bought from Organigram for resale to clients.
The recalls have raised serious questions about Health Canada’s oversight of the new industry, which was set up to produce safe products for patients who use the drug to treat everything from cancer-related pain to epilepsy.
Health Canada officials told The Globe and Mail recently the department has not required the industry to test for illegal pesticides because the companies know chemicals such as myclobutanil are banned, and therefore should not be using them. However, dangerous yet highly effective chemicals could save a company’s revenue stream when pests threaten crops, providing a financial incentive to use them.