There’s a shakeup in the Canadian cannabis sector, as Organigram, a medical marijuana supplier struggles to regain the trust of patients after some bad batches of medicine slipped through testing positive for the potentially harmful, and illegal pesticides called myclobutanil.
There are three major medical marijuana companies that are federally licensed in Canada: Organigram Inc., Mettrum Ltd., and Aurora Cannabis Inc.
The shakeup replaces the Organigram CEO, Denis Arsenault, with Greg Engel. Engel is now the former CEO of another medical marijuana producer, Tilray Canada Inc.
The new appointment places Arsenault into a role that deals more with investor relations within the company. He’s also retaining a direct link to the company as the newest member of their board of directors, reports Globe and Mail.
The cannabis recalls came late last year and began with the one voluntarily issued by Mettrum. Soon after, Aurora Cannabis issued a recall on cannabis they bought from Organigram for the same pesticide issue. Organigram then followed suit.
“We were the ones that found the pesticides in this product, we reported that to Organigram,” said Aurora Cannabis CEO Terry Booth, in an interview. “They claim that they didn’t know this, so they started their own investigation internally. The recall for them ended up extending all the way ‘til February of ’16. It was quite a massive recall.”
Instead of issuing repayments to each consumer, Organigram says they are returning over $2 million in cannabis credit, for future purchases.
Illegal pesticides are a major problem for cannabis, as chemicals that can normally run off with a quick rinse for most fruits and veggies – stick to the flower part of the plant, which is then consumed.
The chemical in question can be harmful when smoked, as it produces hydrogen cyanide. There’s talk of a class-action lawsuit against the companies for victims of the recalled plant who say they are experiencing lung problems, rashes, and persistent nausea and vomiting.
Usually, contamination of this sort are due to any number of external factors, such as contaminated fertilizer or soil.
Organigram tried to pin down what exactly went wrong with an internal review. Unfortunately, they announced at the end of last month that their investigation into the recall returned “inconclusive findings” – without any proof as to where the source of the contamination began.
Some reports cite the possibility of contaminated moss, however, the company says they no longer use the moss in question and therefore can’t test it to see if that was what introduced the myclobutanil.
The pesticide scare also exposes a major gap in Canada’s cannabis production when it comes to testing procedures. It’s a concern for many patients, politicians, and cannabis companies as Canada contemplates implementation of a federally legal, adult-use cannabis program.