New Brunswick

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

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.

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

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

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. (CBC)
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 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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