LP’s Moral High Ground Stance Up In Smoke over contamination scandals

For Canada’s “Big Pot” industry, it’s a shocking year-end fall from grace.

It’s tarnished an otherwise dazzling 2016 for the country’s industrialized medical cannabis growers.

And what exquisitely cruel timing with two image-bruising developments in the last two business days of 2016.

For many shareholders in particular, it was analogous to a much-anticipated bottle of high-end champagne turning out to be flat on New Year’s Eve.

Here’s what happened: it recently came to light that two federal government-approved ‘licensed producers (LPs) of medical marijuana have been caught by authorities selling tainted cannabis to medical patients.

This is a big deal.

Admittedly, nobody is suggesting that some nefarious corporate malfeasance has just been exposed. Hopefully, it just turns out to be instances of human error in both cases.

Nonetheless, it hurts the credibility of an industry that insists that it grows and sells the cleanest, safest, best-quality medicinal marijuana in the whole world.

It also undermines the argument that Canada’s many small medical pot dispensaries should be legislated out of business — all because their products aren’t grown under the watchful eye of Health Canada or even with its approval.

In fact, some LPs have even lobbied to have their main rivals shut down for selling cannabis that isn’t grown to pharmaceutical-grade standards.

Canada’s well-financed medical marijuana LPs boast that they’re pioneering the very best industry standards in the world. Now this claim to fame has been besmirched.

The first scandal to blow up last week came with southern Ontario-based Mettrum Health Corp.

It revealed that a controversial pesticide that’s banned in Canada had been found on an unspecified amount of Mettrum’s products.

The chemical in question is myclobutanil, which is known to emit hydrogen cyanide when smoked or heated in other ways. This comes on the heels of recent recall involving another banned pesticide, pyrethrin, which was found in some of Mettrum’s cannabis.

The other scandal involves Organigram Holdings.

The New Brunswick-based company announced late Friday that it’s doing a recall on cannabis it sold as far back as August.

That’s problematic. After all, who buys cannabis for daily use to help manage a chronic health condition but doesn’t use it for at least five months?

In reality, many of the tainted products have surely been consumed already. And medical patients must now be left wondering if they’ve unwittingly ingested a health-compromising toxin.

Organigram isn’t saying what the offending chemical is. But it is reassuring its customers and shareholders that the contaminant “is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences.”

So it seems like Organigram’s customers might have less to worry about than medical patients who bought hydrogen-cyanide-laced cannabis from Mettrum.

Read the full column by Marc Davis at the Huffington Post