Article by Taylor Blewett, Regina Leader-Post
Health Canada recently unveiled a new regulatory regime that will impose extensive and mandatory pesticide testing requirements on all licensed producers (LPs) of cannabis. Come Jan. 2, LPs will have to send product samples to independent laboratories, where they will be screened for almost 100 active pesticide ingredients before they can be sold.
It’s a marked change from the early days of legal medical cannabis, when LPs were forbidden from using most pesticides on their products, but faced no obligation to test for their presence. Most of the eight sources interviewed praised Health Canada’s move as a necessary one, given the industry’s history with pesticides.
“My opinion is that the industry, on the whole, is trying to do a good job,” says John Coleman, co-founder and president of cannabis testing lab Anandia Laboratories. “The problem is, you’re going from essentially a completely illegal industry to one that is legal and highly regulated, and it’s a transition. Getting rid of some of the bad habits is going to take a bit of time,” Coleman suggests.
While some LPs already test their cannabis for pesticides—by choice, or because it’s become a condition of their licence after being caught with tainted product—the new regulations will level the playing field, says Jodi McDonald, president and founder of Keystone Labs. “Now everyone will be held to the same standard,” McDonald adds.
Recalls rock cannabis industry
In late 2016, Coleman’s lab was testing product for cannabis company Aurora Cannabis when it got two pesticide hits: one for myclobutanil, a fungicide used to combat powdery mildew, and one for bifenazate, a pesticide that controls spider mites. Neither were on Health Canada’s list of pesticides approved for cannabis and led to the recall of 81 lots of product sold by Aurora and OrganiGram, the LP from which Aurora had purchased the tainted cannabis.
Mettrum Ltd., another LP, had recalled 300 lots of product contaminated with myclobutanil and a pesticide called pyrethrins weeks earlier.