What bad joke or obvious pun are you supposed to make in a stranger-than-fiction, seriously health-threatening situation like this? We have no idea, so we’ll try to play it straight: Health Canada is now conducting random spot-checks for pesticides at all of the 38 companies it licenses to produce medical marijuana, after two companies—including the one contracted to produce marijuana with Trailer Park Boys branding—were caught using banned chemicals.
Prior to the pesticide revelations, government regulators trusted the companies they worked with so fully, they weren’t checking licensed producers for pesticides at all. How about: You’re better off with weed grown by idiots in the trailer park. No?
Both Mettrum, Ltd., and OrganiGram—the latter of which had scored the deal with the popular Canadian-grown stoner comedy—sprayed plants with the banned pesticide myclobutanil.
Myclobutanil, sold under the popular brand name Eagle 20, is banned for use on tobacco and in many U.S. states where cannabis is legal as it turns into hydrogen cyanide—also known as “poison gas”—when heated.
OrganiGram started voluntarily recalling cannabis in January, after another company that had purchased cannabis from OrganiGram tested the shipment and found a different banned pesticide.
The initial recall spanned product grown from August 2016 to December, by which time much of it was presumably smoked. A later recall initiated by Health Canada covered product grown beginning in February 2016.
Somehow, it’s worse over at Mettrum, which started spraying its plants with myclobutanil as early as 2014, according to The Globe and Mail. The company knew it could get away with it, a whistleblowing former employee says, because credulous Canadian regulators were too nice (of course) and trusted the companies not to. That, and the company had a neat trick for hiding the chemical whenever inspectors visited.
As per the paper:
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… .
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.
Now that the era of trusting profit-driven commercial enterprises to voluntarily obey the rules for the sake of obeying rules is over, both companies will be subject to regular government testing. OrganiGram, which (as the name suggests) had billed itself as an organic grower, has also had that designation “suspended.” But it gets to keep its name.
Canadian medical marijuana patients currently receive cannabis directly from a licensed producer. Home cultivation is not allowed, and while there’s an effort afoot to allow people the joys of home-grow, that proposal is opposed by police. Authorities have touted the “official” distribution model as safer than marijuana purchased at one of the outlaw storefront dispensaries that are proliferating in urban areas like Vancouver and Toronto because of the testing standards.
So much for that. Going forward, all 38 Health Canada-licensed producers will now be subject to the random pesticide tests. In the meantime, several marijuana patients say they’re suffering long-term health problems thanks to the tainted weed.
“I still have breathing problems, still have a rash—it burns from the inside out,” Alvina Savoie told CBC. “The symptoms are breathing, affect your nervous system, rashes, joint pains. I have all of them.”
When she contacted the company to complain, she says she was offered 20 percent off her next order.
All this happens at a sensitive time for cannabis in Canada, where the Liberal government is working to fulfill a promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize marijuana.
No OrganiGram products with Trailer Park Boys branding have yet to be sold, as TPB weed and weed accessories were intended for the recreational, legalized market. About that market: