PEI

'We're happy to provide that,' says Island pot producer of Health Canada's mandatory testing

P.E.I.'s only licensed medical marijuana grower and seller, Canada's Island Garden, supports Health Canada's move requiring all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing for unauthorized pesticides.

Health Canada increasing testing after cannabis recalls

Health Canada has announced mandatory testing for licensed cannabis producers for banned pesticides. (CBC)

P.E.I.'s only licensed medical marijuana grower and seller, Canada's Island Garden, supports Health Canada's move requiring all licensed producers to conduct mandatory testing for unauthorized pesticides. 

"As a consumer, if your health is already compromised perhaps from not being well to begin with and you're buying your medicine you want to make sure that the product you're getting is good and is safe and as a licensed producer here in P.E.I., that's a big deal to us and we're going to make sure that it is that way," said Edwin Jewell, president of Canada's Island Garden.

Health Canada said in February it would start unannounced inspections after three recalls of medical cannabis related to the use of unauthorized pesticides. After inspection of seven licensed producers it was found that two sites tested positive for unauthorized pesticides. 

Tweed, which packages and markets some cannabis for Canada's Island Garden, was a site that was inspected and showed no sign of contamination in the leaves that were tested, said Health Canada.

There are 17 approved pesticides and Jewell said his company only uses ones that are allowed.

Extra step in testing

Licensed producers already send samples to government approved labs for mandatory testing for things such as mould, heavy metals, and bacterial and fungal contamination, and the testing for pesticides is just an extra step.

Jewell said it may take a day or two more for testing, but it won't affect customer orders.

Edwin Jewell, president of Canada's Island Garden, says he is happy to do more testing to ensuring Canada's cannabis supply is of high quality. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Jewell said it costs his company about $1,000 for testing per sample and the extra pesticide testing will cost about 40 to 50 per cent more, but he's happy to do it.

"It's really not so much about the cost of the testing as it is reassuring the public that the work that we do and the cannabis that we provide is good and it's safe, and it's the way it should be. And I think everybody deserves to know that and needs that reassurance so we're happy to provide that," said Jewell.  

Edwin said one of the biggest challenges in growing medical marijuana is mildew. He said his facility takes steps to make sure it isn't an issue by having employees shower at work and change clothes. The facility also has an up to date heating and ventilation system to control humidity.  

Random testing to continue as well

Health Canada will continue to carry out random testing of product samples collected during its regular and unannounced inspections of licensed producers to help ensure the safety of Canada's medical cannabis supply.

In the coming weeks, Health Canada will provide guidance to licensed producers on how to implement mandatory testing, including reporting of test results to Health Canada.

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.