Article by Grant Robertson, The Globe and Mail
Health Canada is adding new terms and conditions to the licences of two federally regulated medical-marijuana companies caught with banned chemicals in their products, requiring them to be tested regularly to ensure they are not using dangerous pesticides that can harm consumers.
The new rules are being affixed to the licences of Mettrum Ltd. and OrganiGram Inc., which are caught in the middle of a tainted-marijuana controversy after they were discovered selling product that contained a banned pesticide known as myclobutanil. The chemical, which was discovered in shipments the companies made in 2016, is banned for use on products that are smoked, such as tobacco and cannabis, because it emits hydrogen cyanide when heated.
The Globe and Mail revealed Thursday that Mettrum had been using the dangerous chemical on its plants as far back as 2014, and hid the evidence from Health Canada. According to former employee Thomas McConville, who says he witnessed it being sprayed on plants, the company knew Health Canada wasn’t testing its products for banned pesticides, and when federal inspectors visited the facility, a Mettrum employee hid the chemical inside the ceiling tiles of its offices to evade detection.
As a condition of its licence, Mettrum will now have to submit to regular testing of its products to prove that it is not using myclobutanil and other banned pesticides. The same condition is being applied to OrganiGram, which has sold itself as an organic grower but has since had its organic designation suspended.
“We’re adding terms and conditions to both OrganiGram and Mettrum’s licence, which will of course require them to adopt that expanded testing regime,” a senior Health Canada official told The Globe and Mail in a background briefing this week.
Mandated testing for those two companies is a step up from a plan Health Canada announced this week that will subject all 38 federally regulated companies to random spot checks for banned pesticides.