Ottawa Did Not Warn Vancouver About Toxins in Retail Cannabis, Councillor Says

Article by Grant Robertson, Ian Bailey and Daniel LaBlanc,The Globe and Mail


A Vancouver city councillor says federal Health Minister Jane Philpott’s office took no action – and did not warn the city – after receiving lab results showing there were dangerous toxins in marijuana sold at some dispensaries in the city.

Kerry Jang, a point person on marijuana issues on Vancouver city council, said the actions of the minister were “irresponsible,” and indicate the public was potentially put at risk.

Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through the Access to Information Act show that test results from a Health Canada-accredited lab were sent to the federal government nearly a year ago, and revealed that cannabis from several Vancouver dispensaries contained pesticides and fungicides “not approved for any human use.” The lab report was sent to Eric Costen, who headed Health Canada’s office of medical cannabis, last October, and later sent to Dr. Philpott’s chief of staff, Geneviève Hinse, in January.

In an interview with The Globe, Dr. Philpott said she wasn’t aware of the lab report. “I’m not sure what you’re referring to,” she said when asked why the information wasn’t also forwarded immediately to Vancouver officials.

The lab results show that 13 of 22 samples tested from about a dozen Vancouver dispensaries contained high levels of banned chemicals – such as the pesticide carbamate, which is not permitted for use on cannabis, and dodemorph, a fungicide used on roses that is not approved for human consumption.

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