Aurora Cannabis to disclose marijuana testing data to ease public concerns
Pesticide contamination in Canadian medical marijuana has led to recalls, proposed lawsuits
Medical marijuana firm Aurora Cannabis Inc. has announced a new disclosure process for its third-party quality control testing, which it says will assure clients of the purity of its products.
That announcement comes amid growing concern over recalls of contaminated marijuana sold by Health Canada-approved producers.
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Every product sold by Aurora now comes with a certificate of analysis provided by cannabis testing laboratory Anandia Labs.
Aurora, which is based in Cremona, Alta., and has offices in Vancouver, says the certificates will show that its products have "been analyzed with high accuracy for potency and passed Anandia's rigorous testing procedures for the presence of contaminants."
Anandia Labs says it tests for "51 pesticides and plant growth regulators, as well as other contaminants such as bacteria and heavy metals."
"It is imperative that patients have confidence in the safety of the products they consume, and in the integrity of the medical cannabis system," Aurora chief executive Terry Booth said in a release.
Booth said his company's move "will raise the bar for the entire sector, and offer a model for other companies to follow."
Reports of reactions
Aurora's move follows a series of pesticide-related recalls at Canadian medical marijuana producers Organigram and Mettrum — and a January recall by Aurora itself, which sold some Organigram products to its customers.
Since those recalls, Health Canada has received 13 reports of adverse reactions as of March 6. Health Canada spokesman André Gagnon told CBC News those reports "are not, on their own, proof of a specific substance causing a reaction."
In January, New Brunswick-based Organigram Inc. issued a voluntary recall of products sold in 2016 after they were found to contain low levels of the pesticides myclobutanil and bifenazate, both of which aren't authorized by Health Canada for use on cannabis plants.
Health Canada said it received a total of four adverse reaction reports involving Organigram products, with symptoms including "weight loss, nausea, vomiting, throat irritation, and respiratory tract irritation." Three of those reports were received after the recall began.
Aurora Cannabis voluntarily recalled seven lots of Organigram product that it sold to customers under the Aurora name. Four adverse reaction reports, all sent to Health Canada about Aurora products after the recall was announced, noted symptoms including "pain, confusion, dysphoria, and tiredness."
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In December, Ontario-based Mettrum Health Corp. voluntary recalled products produced earlier that year after finding trace amounts of myclobutanil. Mettrum had also recalled some products in November after detecting pyrethrins, another unapproved pest-control product.
Health Canada said it received 16 adverse reaction reports regarding Mettrum products, six of them after the recall began. The reports described symptoms including "dizziness or balance disorders, nausea, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, diarrhea, sleep disturbance, gastrointestinal issues, pain and discomfort, swelling, movement disorder, and disturbances in thinking and perception."
Mettrum was acquired by Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp., Canada's largest authorized producer of medical marijuana, in February of 2017. Later that month, Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton apologized to customers for the Mettrum recall, and said his company had improved its quality control practices.
On Monday, a Toronto law firm issued a proposed class action lawsuit against Mettrum over the use of unauthorized pesticides. Canopy Growth says it will defend itself against any lawsuits related to the Mettrum recalls.
Following the recalls at Organigram and Mettrum, Health Canada said it was beginning random testing of products from licensed producers.
With files from Elizabeth Chiu