Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Growing flowers of cannabis intended for the medical marijuana market are shown at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B.

The Canadian Press

Two more licensed medical marijuana producers have voluntarily recalled hundreds of grams of the drug after traces of a controversial pesticide banned in Canada were detected in their supply, raising questions about Ottawa's oversight of an industry expected to explode with the upcoming legalization of cannabis.

Last week, Organigram, a publicly traded grower based in Moncton, expanded a Dec. 28 recall of a small amount of product to include almost all of its cannabis buds and oils produced in 2016.

On Monday, Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc., a publicly traded firm based in Alberta, announced it had recalled seven lots of cannabis it had bought from Organigram and sold to its clients – through the mail-order system overseen by Health Canada – from August to October of last year.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Canadians not told about banned pesticide found in medical pot supply

Read more: Ottawa should require marijuana to be lab-tested to ensure safety: task force

Globe Investigation: What's in your weed? We tested dispensary marijuana to find out

Health Canada listed both recalls on its online database and confirmed that both cases involved traces of chemicals bifenazate and myclobutanil, which are prohibited for use on legal cannabis in Canada.

Myclobutanil is permitted in small doses on certain crops that are eaten, since the chemical compounds are metabolized by the digestive system and rendered non-toxic. It is also approved for crops that don't retain high levels of pesticide residue as they grow.

The pesticide is not approved for use on plants that are combusted, such as tobacco or cannabis, and is known to emit hydrogen cyanide when heated. Lawmakers in Colorado, Washington and Oregon moved quickly to ban myclobutanil, in some cases enacting emergency legislation when they discovered growers using it.

Myclobutanil was also found in product recalled in November by Mettrum Ltd., a Toronto-based medical marijuana company.

Story continues below advertisement

Organigram has said it does not know how the substance entered its crops but is working with Health Canada to find out more, noting it is a certified organic grower and does not use pesticides in its production processes. Organigram's CEO, Denis Arsenault, was unreachable for comment on his cellphone Monday.

However, Colette Rivet, executive director of Cannabis Canada, a trade association representing half of the country's 30 licensed producers, said Health Canada should require growers to test for more substances – such as myclobutanil – than just the 13 pesticides currently approved for use on medical marijuana.

"The list of pesticides hasn't been really focused on in the past, this should be another matter Health Canada should be looking at," she said Monday. "If the system identifies a gap for us, then we really should be doing something about that and make sure the gap gets filled."

When Health Canada was asked by The Globe in September what the government would do if a banned pesticide such as myclobutanil was found in product grown by one of the country's 30 licensed medical marijuana producers, the department said it had a zero-tolerance policy.

"If the Department had reason to believe that a licensed producer was using unauthorized pesticides or other chemicals, it would take immediate enforcement action," Health Canada said at the time. Such steps "could include detention of product, recalls or potentially revoking the producer's licence," Health Canada said, referencing two banned pesticides: myclobutanil and dodemorph.

On Monday, Health Canada spokesman Andre Gagnon said that both Organigram and Aurora have undertaken a series of corrective actions, "including strengthening monitoring, enhancing internal operating procedures, and expanding their product testing regimes."

Story continues below advertisement

He added that Health Canada's own testing determined that the products affected by the recalls represent a low health risk and that it has not had any patients complain about adverse reactions after these product recalls. Aurora was counselling affected patients to destroy any remaining product hit by the recall and, along with Organigram, was offering patients refunds.

Last month, The Globe and Mail reported that neither licensed producer Mettrum nor Health Canada informed the wider public of a continuing recall involved myclobutanil. Health Canada has now begun listing cannabis recalls, regardless of the level of risk, online.

Kirk Tousaw, a Nanaimo-based lawyer who helped win a constitutional challenge that led to the overhaul of the medical-marijuana system this summer, said many in the cannabis world are frustrated that there is no regulatory regime that allows the hundreds of illegal dispensaries to test their cannabis products.

"People are frustrated by the hypocrisy, by the demonization of dispensaries by [licensed producers], when they are clearly cutting corners and not following the rules," he said. "And by the failure of government to really regulate the dispensary industry in an honest and above-board manner so that all consumers can benefit from whatever standards are out there."

Ms. Rivet said these recalls show the system works, but needs to be tweaked.

"It's good that we did have this check on what's been happening here and we can actually recall every product that we sell. So this is a good thing for the future as well."

Story continues below advertisement

With a report from Grant Robertson

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies