Canada: Producers must test medical cannabis for pesticides

Spurred by more incidents of pesticide-tainted medical marijuana, Health Canada is demanding that the country’s federally licensed MMJ producers test their products for unauthorized pesticides.

The federal agency, which oversees Canada’s MMJ industry, said plants from two producers – Peace Naturals in Ontario and Hydropothecary in Quebec – recently tested positive for myclobutanil.

Regulators said in a news release they soon will issue guidelines on how Canada’s licensed producers should conduct the tests and report results.

Looking ahead, cannabis testing likely will become a hot-button issue as Canada moves forward with plans to legalize recreational marijuana in 2018.

The nation’s medical marijuana law already requires testing for mold, bacteria and metals. But several recent situations have compelled Health Canada to take stronger measures.

In February, the agency began random testing and inspections of producers after cannabis plants from three cultivation companies – Mettrum and Aphria in Ontario and OrganiGram in New Brunswick – were found to be contaminated with myclobutanil, a banned substance.

During subsequent tests of product from seven producers, Health Canada said, plants from Peace Naturals and Hydropothecary tested positive for myclobutanil. The pesticide is known to emit hydrogen cyanide that, when lit, can cause serious health problems.

Peace Naturals blamed the positive test results on cross-contamination from a product used to disinfect the facility. Hydropothecary was still trying to identify the source of contamination but suspended sales in the interim, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Five producers passed the random test, according to the news release: Broken Coast, RedeCam, Tilray, Tweed and 7Acres.