Health Minister Jane Philpott has responded to media reports that her government had ignored reports of contaminants in dispensary cannabis.
The Globe & Mail has reported through the last week on documents obtained through an Access to Information request that showed the government was given lab testing results for Vancouver dispensary cannabis that showed 13 of 22 samples with some form of contaminate.
The test results were provided to Philpott’s office by representatives of licensed producer Tilray, who met with government officials last September.
“At that meeting, Tilray expressed concerns about illegal dispensaries and shared the results of lab work suggesting contamination of cannabis,” Philpott wrote. “I was not present at the meeting, but I am informed that as the meeting concluded, the CEO provided a photocopy of six pages of lab results to my staff. I have confirmed that a copy was also provided to Health Canada employees.”
Philpott said, if the data is valid, the results are unsurprising.
“I have stated repeatedly that storefront dispensaries are illegal, and products sold there are untested and should not be used,” she wrote. “Our government has issued numerous statements to warn the public that they should not be purchasing products from dispensaries, compassion clubs or other illegal organizations and individuals.
“…Canadians who require marijuana for medical purposes should only be accessing it through Health Canada’s Cannabis for Medical Purposes program.”
The statement prompted lawyer and cannabis rights advocate Kirk Tousaw to respond online, calling the statement an “obnoxious load of garbage.”
“Tilray doesn’t post its own lab testing. It isn’t transparent at all to its consumers. And it has the nerve to wave around some (likely cherry-picked and certainly small sample-sized) lab tests and whine about dispensaries,” Tousaw wrote. “Here’s an idea, Tilray. Grow great Cannabis and sell it at a good price while not making yourself look petty and stupid by constantly slamming the competition with nonsense.”
Tousaw questioned the accuracy of representing all non-LP grown cannabis with these tests, and that the hundreds of strains produced in the country weren’t included in the small sample of lab results.
“Dispensaries sell tens of thousands of individual batches of Cannabis each day. Six strains tested by Tilray (that they disclosed) represents less than a tenth of percent (yeah, I made that up and yeah, it’s probably less actually) of the market,” he wrote.
Tousaw said there hasn’t been any indication that dispensary cannabis has harmed the public or that cannabis has ever been a serious health issue.
“Since dispensary cannabis is grown as well or better now than all the cannabis the black market has produced for decades, where are the people that were harmed by that untested, “contaminated” cannabis,” he wrote.