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Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

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Pesticide-laden medical marijuana spurs third Canadian lawsuit

Post by Guest on Wed 15 Mar 2017, 06:25

Pesticide-laden medical marijuana spurs third Canadian lawsuit


The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017 10:05PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017 10:52PM EDT

A third class-action lawsuit launched Tuesday over tainted medical marijuana raises new questions about Health Canada’s recent conclusion that patients who consumed products containing banned pesticides were unlikely to experience any adverse health consequences.

A Nova Scotia man listed in the proposed suit says he became violently ill and unable to keep food down after taking federally regulated medical marijuana purchased from Toronto-based Mettrum Ltd. Those claims, unproven in court, are similar to allegations made in two other proposed class actions already launched over the pesticide problem.

The symptoms also resemble a growing file of evidence being gathered by a group of military veterans who are investigating the situation after being exposed to the tainted products. Several of them say they became bedridden, stricken by nausea and suffered bouts of “scary” breathing difficulties, among other symptoms.

Scott Wood, a former military policeman who is leading the independent investigation, has gathered evidence from roughly 100 people, including dozens of affected veterans. The group wants federal Health Minister Jane Philpott to step in, saying the department has not investigated the problem properly, or fairly, on behalf of patients before concluding that there was a low risk of serious health problems.

Drawing upon his police background, Mr. Wood said he has spent the past few months cataloging evidence from patients exposed to the banned chemicals in products sold by Mettrum and OrganiGram Inc.

He said thousands of veterans use medical cannabis instead of opioids to ease the pain of injuries suffered while serving, or to manage post-traumatic stress disorder. The group disputes Health Canada’s claim that the risk of health problems was low and believes the department reached that conclusion without speaking to patients.

Mr. Wood said more people have joined the effort this week, after he spoke publicly about the investigation in The Globe and Mail, including additional military veterans.

The symptoms being catalogued include severe bouts of breathing difficulties that have sent people, including Mr. Wood, to the emergency ward, painful rashes around the neck and other parts of the body, abdominal pain and persistent bouts of nausea and vomiting. In his case, Mr. Wood said he stopped taking the products when the symptoms emerged, but problems such as breathing difficulties persisted.

“These symptoms didn’t come out of nowhere. They have to be caused by something,” Mr. Wood said, adding he and many other patients experienced none of the health issues prior to taking the products. “How would Health Canada explain so many people with eating [dysfunctions] all of a sudden, who can’t eat?” Mr. Wood said, noting that one patient reported losing more than 40 pounds.

Patients who visited their family doctors have come away with few answers, he added, which suggests more examination of the problem is needed.

A spokesperson for Ms. Philpott said on Tuesday the Health Minister had no comment.

The latest proposed class action is against Mettrum and is led by Halifax-based Wagners Law Firm, which is seeking a class action against OrganiGram on similar grounds. Toronto-based law firm Roy O’Connor announced a proposed class action against Mettrum two weeks ago. All three cases are seeking certification by the courts.

Canopy Growth Corp., which acquired Mettrum in January, and OrganiGram have both said they plan to fight the suits. Mettrum issued a statement saying it is satisfied with Health Canada’s determination that the recalled products were “not likely to cause any adverse health consequences.”

In its statement of claim against Mettrum, Wagners said Nova Scotia resident Neal Partington suffered “persistent and severe nausea and vomiting,” before halting use of the product, which he was taking for chronic neck and back pain.

The suit alleges there is no explanation, other than the product, for the problems. “Mr. Partington attended multiple medical appointments and the emergency room on various occasions. He was referred to medical specialists and underwent various diagnostic tests, yet received no confirmed diagnosis to explain his nausea and violent illness,” the statement of claim says.

“Patients thought they were purchasing safe, healthy medical cannabis from a licensed producer subjected to strict regulations. And in fact, that’s not what they received,” said Ray Wagner, lawyer for the suit, which seeks to recover money charged for the products, among other damages.

Little is known about the health risks of the banned pesticides involved when inhaled because these products – including myclobutanil and bifenazate – are not approved for use on cannabis and haven’t undergone the appropriate safety studies for humans. Though Dr. Philpott would not comment, Health Canada provided a statement Tuesday saying its determination that the risks were low was based on existing animal toxicity studies for myclobutanil, involving oral ingestion, absorption through the skin, and inhalation, as well as the low amount of the chemical present.

For Mr. Wood, who has not joined the class actions, getting to the bottom of the health problems on behalf of those he says have gotten sick is a more pressing concern.

“If someone was to take me in front of a government panel, I would bring my own medical documents, I would bring the pictures I have received from people [of rashes and other symptoms] and I would tell them – not just for me, but for all the people affected – this is what’s going on,” Mr. Wood said.


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Re: Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Post by bosn181 on Mon 13 Mar 2017, 08:49

this is a response i got from the company regarding the recall they did for me and many others that were using there products seems like they going to try everything they can to not have to deal with this matter as far as the patient goes

Much has been reported in the media in respect to the affects of myclobutanil and cannabis.  The following statement from Health Canada provides clarification on this matter and we felt it was important for you, as an Organigram client, to review.   See the official statement at 2m97zmU.

Bien des choses ont été rapportez dans les médias au sujet des effets du Myclobutanil et le cannabis. Le communiqué suivant de Santé Canada fourni une clarification à ce sujet. Nous avons senti que ces informations sont important pour vous en tant que client d’Organigram. Nous vous invitons de faire une revue du communiqué officiel au lien suivant: 2mKghfJ


Clarification from Health Canada on myclobutanil and cannabis

Health Canada's first priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This is the guiding principle of the regulations that govern Canada's medical cannabis industry, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Canada has some of the most stringent controls on the medical cannabis industry in the world, and licensed producers are required to adhere to strict Good Production Practices designed to provide a safe supply of medical cannabis for Canadians.

The regulations and their accompanying compliance and enforcement measures have worked effectively since the industry's inception in 2013. Health Canada verifies that the regulations are followed by undertaking compliance measures that include multiple unannounced inspections of each licensed producer every year. For example, during the 2015-16 fiscal year, Health Canada conducted more than 300 inspections of 30 licensed producers, the results of which can be found online. If these inspections identify non-compliance, the Department has a range of enforcement options available, including education, recalls, adding terms and conditions to a licence, licence suspension or licence revocation.

Recently, two licensed producers undertook voluntary recalls after it was found that they had used unauthorized pesticides, including myclobutanil.

The regulations are clear - licensed producers are responsible for ensuring that their products comply with the regulations. Under the ACMPR, licensed producers are permitted to use only the 14 pesticides that are currently approved for use on cannabis under the Pest Control Products Act. The use of any other pesticides, at any stage of cannabis production, is prohibited.

Health Canada has already outlined many of the known health risks of cannabis use, including risks from inhalation. However, recent media reports about these recalls have suggested that there was a significantly increased risk to the health of Canadians who inhaled the recalled cannabis products, due to the release of hydrogen cyanide.

Here are the facts. When the cannabis plant is combusted, a number of compounds are produced, including very low amounts of hydrogen cyanide. Health Canada's analysis of the recalled cannabis products show that the trace levels of myclobutanil that were present would have produced a negligible amount of additional hydrogen cyanide upon combustion, in comparison to the levels already produced by marijuana alone. Specifically, the level of cyanide from the burning of myclobutanil found on the cannabis samples is more than 1000 times less than the cyanide in cannabis smoke alone, and is 500 times below the acceptable level established by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. As such, the risk of serious adverse health consequences resulting from the inhalation of combusted myclobutanil in the recalled cannabis products was determined by Health Canada to be low.

In each of these instances, Health Canada moved quickly to verify that compromised products were removed from the market and that clients of the licensed producers were contacted. Health Canada's enforcement response considered the low health risk posed by the trace amounts of unauthorized pesticides detected and took into account the companies' full cooperation with the Department during the recall process and subsequent investigations. To help ensure adherence to the Good Production Practices, Health Canada added new terms and conditions to the licences of the affected producers requiring testing for unauthorized pesticides.

While the risk of harm to Canadians was low in these recent cases, Health Canada has engaged all 39 licensed producers to ensure that they understand the federal regulatory requirements around authorized pesticide use, and that a repeat of the situation that led to these recalls is unacceptable. Health Canada has already announced that it will begin random unannounced testing of cannabis and cannabis products from licensed producers to verify the overall state of compliance. The Department will undertake additional measures, as required, consistent with its evidence and risk-based approach to regulation.

Health Canada would like to assure Canadians that had there been any evidence to show that a licensed producer had acted with indifference or recklessness and engaged in activities that put the health or safety of Canadians in danger, the Department would have responded with appropriate enforcement actions, including licence suspension or revocation.

Précisions de Santé Canada sur le myclobutanil et le cannabis

La priorité absolue de Santé Canada est de protéger la santé et la sécurité des Canadiens. Cela est le principe directeur de la réglementation qui régit l'industrie du cannabis à des fins médicales au Canada, le Règlement sur l'accès au cannabis à des fins médicales (RACFM). Le Canada possède des mesures de contrôles parmi les plus rigoureuses au monde à l'égard de l'industrie du cannabis à des fins médicales, et les producteurs agréés doivent respecter de bonnes pratiques de production strictes afin de fournir un approvisionnement sécuritaire du cannabis à des fins médicales au Canada.

La réglementation et les mesures de conformité et d'application qui s'y rapporte se sont avérées efficaces depuis les débuts de l'industrie en 2013. Santé Canada vérifie que la réglementation est respectée en employant des mesures de conformité qui comportent de multiples inspections sans préavis pour chaque producteur agréé chaque année. Par exemple, durant l'exercice 2015-2016, Santé Canada a mené plus de 300 inspections auprès de 30 producteurs agréés, dont les résultats sont disponibles en ligne. Lorsque ces inspections indiquent une non-conformité, le Ministère dispose d'un vaste éventail de mesures d'application, dont l'éducation, le mécanisme de rappels, l'ajout de conditions pour une licence, la suspension ou la révocation d'une licence.

Récemment, deux producteurs agréés ont entrepris des rappels volontaires après s'être aperçus avoir utilisé des pesticides non autorisés, notamment le myclobutanil.

La réglementation est claire : les producteurs agréés sont tenus de s'assurer que leurs produits respectent la réglementation. En vertu du RACFM, les producteurs agréés ont le droit d'utiliser seulement 14 pesticides qui sont actuellement approuvés pour utilisation sur le cannabis en vertu de la Loi sur les produits antiparasitaires. L'utilisation de tout autre pesticide, à n'importe quelle étape de production du cannabis, est interdite.

Santé Canada a déjà énoncé plusieurs des risques connus pour la santé liés à la consommation du cannabis, y compris les risques liés à l'inhalation. Toutefois, les récents rapports des médias à propos des rappels ont suggéré que les risques pour la santé des Canadiens qui inhalent les produits de cannabis rappelés étaient plus élevés en raison de la libération d’acide cyanhydrique.
Voici les faits. Lorsque le plant de cannabis est brûlé, un certain nombre de composés sont produits, dont une très faible quantité d’acide cyanhydrique. Les analyses de Santé Canada, à l’égard des produits de cannabis rappelés, montrent que les niveaux traces de myclobutanil qui étaient présents auraient produit une quantité négligeable d’acide cyanhydrique supplémentaire à la suite de la combustion, par rapport aux niveaux déjà produits par la marijuana à elle seule. Plus précisément, le niveau de cyanure provenant de la combustion de myclobutanil trouvé dans les échantillons de cannabis est plus de 1 000 fois inférieur au niveau de cyanure dans la fumée de cannabis seule, et 500 fois en dessous du niveau acceptable établi par l’institut national des É.-U. quant à la sécurité et la santé au travail. Par conséquent, Santé Canada a établi que le risque de conséquences indésirables graves sur la santé, résultant de l’inhalation de myclobutanil brûlé dans les produits de cannabis rappelés, était faible.

Dans chacun de ces cas, Santé Canada a réagi rapidement pour vérifier que les produits compromis soient supprimés du marché et que les clients des producteurs agréés en soient informés. Les mesures d’application de Santé Canada ont considéré le faible risque pour la santé que représentait l’état de traces des quantités détectées de pesticides non autorisés et ont tenu compte de l’entière coopération des entreprises avec le Ministère au cours du processus et des enquêtes subséquentes. Afin d’aider à assurer l’observation des bonnes pratiques de production, Santé Canada a ajouté de nouvelles conditions de licences des producteurs touchés exigeant le test de dépistage de pesticides non autorisés.

Alors que le risque de blessure pour les Canadiens était faible en ce qui concerne ces récents cas, Santé Canada a mobilisé tous les 39 producteurs agréés afin de s’assurer qu’ils comprennent bien les exigences réglementaires fédérales concernant l’utilisation de pesticides autorisés, et qu’il est inacceptable de voir se reproduire la situation qui a mené à ces rappels. Santé Canada a déjà annoncé son intention de commencer des tests aléatoires et sans préavis sur le cannabis et les produits à base de cannabis de producteurs agréés de manière à vérifier l’état général de conformité. Le Ministère entreprendra des mesures supplémentaires, au besoin, conformes à son approche de réglementation fondée sur les risques et les données probantes.

Santé Canada tient à assurer les Canadiens qu’aucune donnée probante n’a démontré qu’un producteur agrée a agi avec indifférence ou insouciance et s’est engagé dans des activités mettant la santé ou la sécurité des Canadiens en danger. Autrement, le Ministère aurait réagi par des mesures appropriées, notamment la suspension ou la révocation de la licence.

In Good Health,

The Organigram Team

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Sick veterans urge Health Minister to further probe tainted medical marijuana

Post by Guest on Mon 13 Mar 2017, 06:17

Sick veterans urge Health Minister to further probe tainted medical marijuana

The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Mar. 12, 2017 10:22PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Mar. 12, 2017 10:22PM EDT

A group of Canadian military veterans who say they are suffering from health problems after consuming tainted medical marijuana is calling on Health Minister Jane Philpott to launch a formal investigation, saying the department has failed to examine the problem properly and fairly on behalf of patients.

Scott Wood, a retired military policeman whose career involved investigating military wrongdoing and guarding heads of state, said he believes Health Canada is trying to sweep the problem under the rug without a proper investigation.

The group’s call for Ms. Philpott to get involved comes after Health Canada issued a public statement Friday saying it determined there was “low health risk” posed by several banned pesticides found in medical marijuana sold by two federally licensed companies.

“Here are the facts,” Health Canada said, stating that its findings determined the amount of the banned chemical myclobutanil found was not enough to pose a “risk of serious adverse health consequences.”

But Mr. Wood says the facts he has collected differ from Health Canada’s and there needs to be further examination. He began reaching out to dozens of affected patients, including veterans, after he came down with sudden and mysterious health problems last fall after consuming medical marijuana that was later recalled.

Mr. Wood, who used the products to help with severe back pain, says he has since catalogued about 100 patients, and counting, who have each come down with significant – and oddly similar – health problems that had no explanation, other than they had each consumed the same tainted products.

However, when some of these patients, including Mr. Wood, contacted Health Canada, he says they received no help. In a recording of Mr. Wood’s phone call to Health Canada, which was provided to The Globe and Mail, he is told to send his concerns to a department e-mail address.

Mr. Wood, 53, says he’s spoken with dozens of veterans who gravitated to medical marijuana instead of prescription drugs to ease pain from injuries suffered while serving, or to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, who are now experiencing problems. He figures there are thousands of people exposed, and questions how Health Canada can dismiss the problem without talking to many of those affected.

“There’s a commonality – you have people who used the contaminated stuff, and they’re all showing very similar symptoms,” Mr. Wood said. “There’s the evidence. You’ve got reasonable, probable belief to say there’s something going on here.”

When asked for comment on the veterans’ concerns last week, a spokesman for Dr. Philpott did not respond to The Globe.

Symptoms being reported by patients who consumed products that were later recalled by Mettrum Ltd. and OrganiGram Inc. include persistent nausea and vomiting after taking the product, followed by ongoing breathing problems, rashes and body pain.

Mr. Wood, who stopped using the products after the first symptoms emerged, has been taken to the emergency room at his local hospital three times since then due to sudden breathing difficulties. He says his investigation has turned up several unusual symptoms that are consistent across dozens of patients, including severe itching, joint pain and periodic abdominal pain. Mr. Wood has also collected photographs from patients, including himself, who have suffered painful rashes, and sometimes blistering, around their necks and other areas of the body.

The situation poses an interesting question: Was Health Canada’s assessment of the problem accurate, or are these symptoms due to something else? Mr. Wood believes the sudden emergence of his symptoms after consuming the products is no coincidence.

“They’re not doing a field test, they’re not going out and saying: ‘Let’s go check these people and see what happened.’ Basically they’re hiding behind numbers, and they’re just hoping everybody goes away and doesn’t question it,” he said. “These symptoms didn’t come out of nowhere. They have to be caused by something.”

Mettrum and OrganiGram are now the subject of two proposed class-action lawsuits that seek to force the companies to refund money collected from the recalled products. Mr. Wood said he is not part of those lawsuits, but is instead trying to get to the bottom of the medical issues for the group of veterans and others affected.

The banned chemical myclobutanil is known to emit hydrogen cyanide when combusted. In its statement Friday, Health Canada said the risks from the tainted products were deemed to be low because the trace amounts of myclobutanil found would not have produced enough hydrogen cyanide to cause a concern. Health Canada also said hydrogen cyanide is a by-product of smoking cannabis, and it believes the levels from the myclobutanil would have been less than what is produced normally when the plant is combusted.

However, Mr. Wood believes that in focusing solely on the hydrogen cyanide issue, Health Canada is ignoring other health risks posed by myclobutanil, which has never been fully studied for inhalation safety, as well as the risks of pyrethrin and bifenazate, which were also found in the recalled products, and are not approved for use on cannabis.

Scientists in the United States and Canada have told The Globe and Mail not enough is known about the effects of these chemicals on medical marijuana to understand what the true risks are when inhaled.

Dr. Jonathan Page, who runs Anandia Labs in B.C., says some of the symptoms being reported don’t make sense to him based on what is known of hydrogen cyanide exposure. But Dr. Page said he can’t rule out health risks from the banned pesticides because little is known about them. Much of the science on safety is derived from testing on food, rather than on plants that are smoked.

“We can’t really tell,” Dr. Page said. “This is the heart of the issue – each of these pesticides need to be evaluated in the cannabis system, rather than extrapolation from a food system. … Everybody is operating on an absence of evidence and data.”

Health Canada monitors drug side effects through documents called Adverse Reaction Reports, which are filed by patients and doctors. The department said Friday that, as of March 6, it received 24 reports relating to the tainted cannabis problem. Of those, 13 were received after the announcement of a Canada-wide recall.

The reports list symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting, throat irritation, difficulty breathing, swelling, heart palpitations, movement disorder, pain and discomfort.

Health Canada added that the reports are “the opinion or observation of the individual making the report, and are not, on their own, proof of a specific substance causing a reaction.”

While the companies involved have cited the low number of Adverse Reaction Reports as evidence that the issues have not been significant, the statistics on these filings are not a good indicator of the severity of a problem, since many Canadians do not know they should send such complaints to the department, or know how to do so.

Mr. Wood believes Health Canada should properly investigate the problem before dismissing it, because there are people who have become inexplicably sick. “People are going to their doctors and their doctors don’t know how to handle it. They aren’t sure because they’ve never experienced it before,” he said.


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Class action lawsuit filed against N.B. marijuana producer over pesticides

Post by Guest on Mon 06 Mar 2017, 18:09

Class action lawsuit filed against N.B. marijuana producer over pesticides

The Canadian Press
March 6, 2017 09:29 AM

Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., on April 14, 2016. A class action lawsuit has been filed against a New Brunswick medical cannabis producer after unapproved pesticides were used in their products

MONCTON, N.B. — A class action lawsuit has been filed against a New Brunswick medical marijuana producer after unapproved pesticides were found in its products.

Wagners Law Firm alleges roughly 2,000 people purchased cannabis products containing myclobutanil and bifenazate from Moncton's Organigram Inc. last year.

The Halifax-based law firm said both chemicals are considered toxic and do not have federal authorization for use on medical cannabis, and says users are worried about the health effects.

It said Organigram recalled five lots of product in December and 69 lots in January before the company's organic certification was suspended.

Organigram did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.

But the company said in a Feb. 27 press release that its internal investigation into the pesticides was inconclusive, with no evidence "leading to the source of the contamination discovered."

"We built Organigram with a goal of becoming one of the world’s best organic medical marijuana growers and suppliers. We know we have disappointed you and, quite frankly, we have deeply disappointed ourselves," the company said in a Feb. 28 press release.

The company said although its investigation was inconclusive, it has implemented new measures to prevent future issues, including testing every product lot for pesticides before being sold.

Wagners said the proposed representative plaintiff — writer Dawn Rae Downton — consumed the cannabis for nearly a year before learning she was exposing herself to banned pesticides.

The statement of claim alleges Organigram breached its contract with customers to provide a certified organic product free from unauthorized pesticides.

Lawyer Ray Wagner said Organigram originally offered a refund to customers, but later reversed its position and offered credit for future purchases. The company has estimated the value of credits to be more than $2 million.

Wagner said receiving credits for the products is not enough, especially since there are customers who do not intend to purchase Organigram products again.

"We want the return of the funds that people paid for the product," said Wagner in an interview Monday. "The product was not as it was billed. It was billed as an organic product... and we want our money refunded."

The class-action has not yet been certified by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, where it was filed Friday.

Organigram announced earlier this month that Greg Engel would be taking over the role of CEO on March 13. Current CEO Denis Arsenault will move up to a newly created executive chairman position.


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Re: Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Post by bigrex on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 13:45

Wow, now I'm kind of glad that I let my prescription lapse, since I was getting my MM from Organigram, who I believe is the only distributor in the Maritimes. I did get a letter saying that some products had been sprayed with unapproved pesticides, but didn't say which strains.
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Re: Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Post by 6608 on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 10:24

Here is the latest from the globe..............sad state the MM industry is in with this and the related consistent strain supply issues.

Two medical marijuana companies face new rules after banned pesticide use

The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Feb. 09, 2017 8:28PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 09, 2017 8:53PM EST

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.

The department said it hopes the spot checks will serve as a deterrent against companies tempted to use illegal chemicals as an easy but risky shortcut in dealing with mildew infestations.

Companies are required to test regularly for mould and bacteria. However, with only random spot checks required for pesticides such as myclobutanil, a known carcinogen, it is not clear how Canadian consumers can be confident that all medical cannabis producers are free of dangerous pesticides.

Until now, Health Canada didn’t require testing for banned chemicals in the product, which is sold as medicine and used by patients with compromised immune systems. Companies within the industry market their products as being clean and safe, and of pharmaceutical quality, but there has been no direct oversight ensuring this is, in fact, the case.

With the federal government preparing to legalize marijuana, The Globe initiated an investigation last summer into what quality controls were being placed on the product, which is expected to be a multibillion-dollar industry.

When The Globe asked Health Canada in August why it didn’t test for harmful pesticides – particularly since chemicals such as myclobutanil were a well-known problem in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal, such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington – the department said companies knew not to use them, because they were banned. Health Canada believed the threat of those companies having their licences revoked was enough of a deterrent.

This loophole, and the failure of that oversight, has been further exposed by a recent series of recalls due to myclobutanil, showing the chemical had found its way into the federally regulated supply, which the government touted as safer and more trustworthy than products purchased at illegal storefront dispensaries.

A Globe investigation into contaminants in dispensary products in July showed that a third of the dispensary samples tested would not have met federal health standards due to excessive levels of dangerous mould and bacteria.

Three federally regulated companies have now been the subject of recalls in the past few months. Mettrum announced recalls in November and December, though neither Health Canada nor the company disclosed in their media releases that myclobutanil was to blame. It was only after The Globe questioned the company specifically about myclobutanil that the company and the department acknowledged the banned chemical was the reason.

OrganiGram and Aurora Cannabis then announced recalls a few weeks later, after myclobutanil turned up in shipments OrganiGram sent to customers, and in a bulk shipment of cannabis Aurora purchased from OrganiGram, which it also shipped to customers.

In both the Mettrum and OrganiGram cases, the banned chemical was discovered almost by accident. The myclobutanil in Mettrum’s product was only discovered on a second round of tests after evidence of another banned pesticide, pyrethrin, emerged. In OrganiGram’s case, the chemical was only detected when Aurora tested the wholesale shipment it purchased from the company.

Customers of the companies have told The Globe they are angry with the firms after consuming a substance they were told was not in the product.

In addition to having new conditions placed on its licence that require regular testing, OrganiGram, which was certified as an organic grower by ECOCERT, has had that designation suspended and must reapply, OrganiGram CEO Denis Arsenault said.

Mettrum, Canada’s second-largest medical-marijuana company, was recently purchased by Canopy Growth Corp. in a deal that closed Jan. 31. Canopy said Mettrum’s chief executive officer, Michael Haines, is no longer with the company. The Globe sought comment from Mr. Haines several times since December on the use of myclobutanil, but the Mettrum CEO has not responded.

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Re: Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Post by czerv on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 08:48

Wow, that is scarry. I am looking for a LP in Ontario and this article sounds a warning. I hope she gets better
What are the good suppliers?


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Customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Post by Guest on Fri 10 Feb 2017, 07:18

Ex-Organigram customer says she still suffers from contaminated medical pot

Moncton producer had its organic certification revoked and is now subject to federal spot checks

By Bridget Yard, CBC News Posted: Feb 09, 2017 4:00 PM AT Last Updated: Feb 09, 2017 4:00 PM AT

Alvina Savoie, a medical marijuana user living in Neguac, says her tears are 'from frustration' at Organigram, not sadness.

A Neguac woman who has used medicinal marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder says contaminated product from Organigram, a licensed producer and distributor from Moncton, has made her sick.

"I didn't just smoke and vape it," Alvina Savoie said of the drug that's been promoted as organic. "I made pills with coconut oil. I made candies, I baked with it."

Savoie has suffered adverse symptoms since July 2016, though she stopped using Organigram marijuana in December.

"I still have breathing problems, still have a rash — it burns from the inside out," she said. "I just want to scratch but I know I can't. When no doctors want to help you, I don't even know what to do."

Organigram, which has had its organic certification suspended, is now at the centre of a Health Canada recall, though it continues to promote itself as organic on its website.

In 2016, the federally licensed producer issued two voluntary recalls after levels of banned pesticides were found.

The pesticides are myclobutanil and bifenazate. When burned, myclobutanil produces hydrogen cyanide, which interferes with how oxygen is used in the body and can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Health Canada announced Tuesday that it will now spot check Organigram's products.

Not the only one

A screenshot Wednesday morning from Organigram's home page shows the company continues to promote itself as organic, although its organic certification has been suspended.

Alvina Savoie experienced troubling symptoms for months before she received a letter from Health Canada in January stating pesticides had been found in Organigram products.

Another Organigram customer also "reached out and said what their symptoms were for smoking or vaping it — what it can do to your body," Savoie said. "The symptoms are breathing, affect your nervous system, rashes, joint pains. I have all of them."

Other Organigram customers in Atlantic Canada have reported similar symptoms.

Savoie, a veteran who was diagnosed with PTSD in 2006, said she feels "like a guinea pig" given that Veterans Affairs provides coverage for medical marijuana but hasn't provided any guidance for her current situation.

When Savoie she tried to get help from her family doctor, she was told there was nothing that could be done. She is now using medical marijuana from another supplier but continues to search for support.

Savoie "strongly thinks" that legal action will be taken by consumers against Organigram.

"When you call the company and ask if we're going to be compensated for what has happened to us and I'm told I'll give you 20 per cent off your next order … I'm not even with them anymore."


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