Health Canada’s restrictive approach to marijuana safety testing is putting the public at risk, a growing chorus of scientists and activists warns – saying consumers are potentially being exposed to contamination in products that are widely accessible since the federal Liberals took power promising legalization.
A number of laboratories accredited by Health Canada say the regulator has repeatedly discouraged them from analyzing any cannabis that does not come directly from one of the country’s 31 licensed medical marijuana producers – even as hundreds of dispensaries have sprouted up in Vancouver and Toronto, flooding the market with products of unknown provenance. Patients’ requests to have their federally licensed medical marijuana tested to ensure its safety are also blocked.
Testing done for The Globe and Mail showed that three of nine samples of dried cannabis from nine unregulated dispensaries would not meet Health Canada’s safety standards for licensed growers.
Hubert Marceau, one of the owners of a lab in Saguenay, Que., that is accredited to analyze marijuana, said his facility has received at least a dozen requests from doctors, patients and dispensaries that want to know more about the contents of cannabis from both regulated and unregulated sources to ensure it is safe and free of contaminants.
The lab has waited as long as eight months for responses to requests for guidance from Health Canada, Mr. Marceau said – and when they come, they are usually imprecise.