Pubdate: Sat, 19 Aug 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Grant Robertson


In less than a year, the government will legalize recreational
marijuana. But, as Grant Robertson reports, growers may already be
pushing for profits at the expense of customers' health

Scott Wood had been losing weight for weeks, and it was starting to
scare him. His skin developed strange blistering rashes, his muscles
ached constantly, and his lungs burned. He couldn't stop coughing, and
he was spitting up gobs of thick, clear mucous that looked like Vaseline.

But the worst day came in October when Mr. Wood, 53, a family man and
military veteran, collapsed at the grocery store. "I walked about five
feet, and I couldn't get a breath," he said. "I was down on my hands
and knees in the parking lot."

He ended up in the emergency room that week - the first of seven trips
to the ER over a span of six months - but the doctors couldn't figure
out what was wrong. It was only later that he began to suspect what
was really going on.

Mr. Wood, a former military police officer, had been consuming medical
marijuana that, unbeknownst to him, was contaminated with several
dangerous pesticides banned by Health Canada.

A doctor had prescribed the marijuana from a federally regulated drug
company in September to treat a serious back injury Mr. Wood suffered
while serving. At first, it was a godsend, allowing him to stop taking
opioid painkillers and get on with his life.

Then, suddenly, in a matter of weeks, "my health went sideways," he

He stopped taking the marijuana soon after the mysterious symptoms
began. It wasn't for another few months that the company supplying his
prescription, Organigram Inc., revealed a problem: nearly all of its
products from the previous year were unfit for consumption, and were
being recalled due to chemical contamination.

The company, one of about 50 federally licensed medical marijuana
producers in Canada, had been caught selling products tainted with two
banned pesticides: myclobutanil, a chemical used to kill mildew, and
bifenazate, an insecticide prohibited for use on certain types of
plants, including cannabis.

The recall has impacted thousands of people, and raised questions
about oversight and quality control inside Canada's new federally
regulated medical marijuana sector - particularly as the government
prepares to legalize the drug for recreational use next year, creating
a multibillion-dollar industry. It is one of the most sweeping new
policy decisions the federal government has undertaken in years,
ending nearly a century of prohibition on cannabis.

In a bid to minimize concerns about the recall, Organigram told its
customers there was nothing to be concerned with: the risk of adverse
health consequences, it said, was "remote." The company, which grows
the product at an indoor facility in Moncton, N.B., said it had no
idea how banned pesticides got into its products.

But to Mr. Wood and others who had become seriously ill, something was

"When I heard that response, I thought, 'Come on - you have almost a
year's worth of marijuana, and you don't know?' As a former police
officer and investigator, when you give an answer like that, it
doesn't sound very credible. Especially when you're in a business that
is dealing with people's health," Mr. Wood said.

"Basically, my thoughts were, okay, let's see if that's true or

So Mr. Wood gathered his remaining prescriptions, and those of a
military colleague whose health had also taken a turn for the worse.
Instead of returning them in the recall, he reached out to The Globe
and Mail, which arranged for the prescriptions to be tested at a
federally licensed laboratory that is among the most experienced
facilities in the country at screening for pesticides.

The results of the tests shocked him. Mr. Wood's prescriptions not
only contained the two banned pesticides that triggered Organigram's
original recall eight months ago, the samples also contained three
additional pesticides that are outlawed by Health Canada for safety

In addition to the myclobutanil and bifenazate that were previously
known, Mr. Wood's samples contained significant amounts of imazalil,
tebuconazole, and a carbamate pesticide.

Imazalil is used to eradicate root rot, and is not to be inhaled.
Tebuconazole attacks fungi outbreaks, but can damage the endocrine
system in humans. Carbamate pesticides kill bugs by targeting and
disrupting their nervous systems.

But the number of banned pesticides found in the product wasn't the
only problem.

In one of Mr. Wood's samples, the level of bifenezate detected was
nearly double the amount Organigram claimed was present in the recall
- - back when the company told patients there was nothing to worry about.

The results have called into question the inner workings of Canada's
booming marijuana sector since Health Canada began doling out highly
coveted production licences four years ago, while reassuring consumers
that companies in the lucrative new industry would not be allowed to
put profits ahead of safety.

The tests have also ignited a bitter war of words between Mr. Wood and
the company, which disputes his findings.

Organigram sent product samples from its own archives to be screened
at a lab of its choosing, and said those tests showed no signs of any
additional pesticides.

Not satisfied with that response, though, and growing increasingly
concerned about the problem of illicit pesticide use inside a
supposedly quality-controlled industry, Health Canada conducted an
unannounced inspection of Organigram's facility, and gathered archive
samples of its own to have screened.

Those tests, completed in August, also did not find the additional
pesticides contained in Mr. Wood's samples, raising questions about
the discrepancy between the results.

The company believes the new allegations are false. Mr. Wood believes
customers aren't being told the truth about what they were exposed to
- - that the archive samples kept in storage at Organigram have been
whitewashed, and don't match up with what people like him actually

Through social media, Mr. Wood has assembled a database of hundreds of
people across Canada who are all reporting the same mysterious health
problems: searing abdominal pains, fatigue, blistering rashes, painful
aching muscles, lung problems, constant nausea, and - curiously -
coughing up a strange clear, thick, mucous.

"You've got all these people, they don't know each other, they all
have the same symptoms," Mr. Wood said. And while there has been no
determination, "Something's not right. Somebody needs to look into
this." 'These are not trace amounts' When MB Labs, based in Sidney,
B.C., received the products from Mr. Wood for testing, the lab
examined each sample to ensure they had not been tampered with.

Seven of the eight containers were still factory sealed, while one
prescription had been opened and partially consumed - the one Mr. Wood
was taking at the time his symptoms forced him to stop.

The lab inspected and photographed the containers using the same
procedures it employs when handling evidence for the B.C. Supreme
Court. The packaging on the seven unopened containers was intact, MB
Labs said, including the foil seal on each bottle. All eight samples
were then screened for any signs of foul play, looking for evidence of
recently added substances - which would set off alarm bells in the
chemical analysis. New contaminants would show up in purer form than
the others present.

Nothing irregular was detected in the analysis.

"There was no tampering that we could see," said Wendy Riggs, director
of MB Labs. "We are perfectly prepared to testify to that."

Though it was forced to recall a year's worth of production spanning
nearly all of 2016, Organigram has denied any knowledge that banned
pesticides were in its products. The company said it conducted an
internal investigation in February, and was unable to determine where
the chemicals came from.

This apparent lack of quality control in the new industry, which was
created in 2013, is a problem that has implications far beyond patient
safety in the billion-dollar medical marijuana sector. With the
federal government preparing landmark legislation to legalize cannabis
for recreational use in 2018, Health Canada has said it will rely upon
licensed producers such as Organigram to supply the new retail market.

This new business could be worth as much as $10-billion, based on some
estimates, and is expected to create a surge in consumption among
Canadians when the government moves to sell it openly, much like beer
and wine.

The rapid onset of this new industry has encouraged companies to
expand quickly. As a result, some offer financial incentives to their
staff for producing bigger and higher yielding crops.

Those very bonus structures could - theoretically - encourage
employees to break the rules if a crop worth hundreds of thousands of
dollars or more is threatened by an infestation of mites or mildew, a
common problem when growing the plants indoors in large-scale operations.

"Did we have employees that were incentivized to get a higher yield?
Of course," said Dennis Arsenault, the former CEO of Organigram.

"Were there employees that could have been incentivized [to use banned
pesticides], either to save their job, either to increase yields, [or]
to show competence? Yeah, of course. But have I been able to catch
them? No."

Mr. Arsenault stepped aside as CEO after the Organigram recall was
announced, following an investigation undertaken by the company, which
failed to get to the bottom of the problem. He now sits on the board
of directors.

"Where I felt that it was possible was a mid-level manager who, maybe
having trouble doing his job, cuts a couple of corners. That to me was
what was plausible," he said.

"I think you have to draw the conclusion that someone put it there… We
couldn't find the guilty person."

But Organigram isn't the only company with problems. Its recall is one
of four known instances of banned-chemical use to hit the industry in
the past eight months.

Amid these recalls, it has become easy for companies to tell Health
Canada they have no idea how the banned chemicals got into their
products. Two of the four recalls - at Organigram, and at rival
producer Mettrum - have been dismissed in this fashion, with no
determination of how consumers were put at risk.

Health Canada is only now coming to the realization that tougher
enforcement is needed.

"Pesticides can be a very powerful ally to food and medicine
production, but they have to be used with knowledge and a great deal
of care," said Ms. Riggs at MB Labs.

"Because although they may get you out of a pickle and get a crop off
the field, they could leave your ultimate client down the line in a
great deal of harm. And that is something that has been lost…. There's
just too much money riding on these crops."

Despite the fact that such pesticides are strictly banned due to
concerns about their impact on human health, and there is no
acceptable amount that is allowed under Health Canada regulations, in
several of the recalls that have taken place, companies have played
down the problem for consumers.

When Organigram announced its recall, the company said the levels
detected were only "trace amounts," suggesting there is nothing to be
concerned about.

Worried consumers who phoned the company were also informed that such
pesticides were sometimes used on food. This explanation omits the
fact that many pesticides are designed to be broken down and
neutralized by enzymes in the digestive system. Inhaling those same
pesticides can be dangerous, and is warned against by the chemical

Organigram said the "trace" levels involved in its recall included
myclobutanil concentrations of up to 20 parts per million (ppm), and
bifenazate of up to 12 ppm.

While those numbers may sound minuscule, they are not.

Pesticide expert Rodger Voelker, director of Portland-based Oregon
Grower's Analytical, a laboratory that helped uncover illegal
pesticide use in Oregon and Colorado, where marijuana is legal, said
the levels showing up in Canada are far too high.

"These are not trace amounts," Mr. Voelker said of the levels stated
by Organigram, and found in Mr. Wood's prescriptions.

What consumers don't know is the term "trace amount" has no real
meaning, and companies therefore use it however they want.

"Can you do anything about it? No, because 'trace' is not a legally
binding word. So they'll say that as long as they can get away with

Among microbiologists, the term "trace amount" usually means a
substance that can be detected through chemical analysis, but is too
faint to be properly measured. Mr. Voelker, who called the pesticide
problem "an emerging public health threat" that governments have not
fully considered as they prepare to legalize the drug, argued that
trace amounts are usually much smaller than one part per billion,
which is equal to 0.001 parts per million. By that measure, the
Organigram samples don't come close to being trace levels, he said.

The tests conducted by MB Labs on Mr. Wood's prescriptions turned up
myclobutanil levels as high as 13.9 ppm, and bifenazate levels of 23.7

The carbamate compound was detected at 26.9 ppm, while imazalil was
found at 0.13 ppm, and the tebuconazole at 0.03 ppm.

While those latter two figures may also seem miniscule, Mr. Voelker
insisted they are not, particularly since even small amounts of a
harmful chemical can have a profoundly negative impact.

"These numbers are egregious," he said. "On an instrument, that's a
pretty damn big signal."

His read of the data is that pesticides were applied to the plants in
question. "It is extraordinarily unlikely to see numbers like some of
these numbers as a result of indirect [accidental] application," Mr.
Voelker said.

Ms. Riggs at MB Labs came to the same conclusion. Her analysis of the
data is that the pesticide use was intentional - over a sustained
period of time - even though Organigram has denied any knowledge of
their use.

"The pattern that shows up here is deeply disturbing," Ms. Riggs said.
'We now consider this matter closed' Though Organigram has already
been caught selling products containing two banned pesticides, the
company denies further chemicals could have been present.

When informed of Mr. Wood's test results, Organigram CEO Greg Engel
immediately suggested the samples could have been manipulated, and
that the company wasn't to blame.

As evidence, Mr. Engel said Organigram's own safety packaging -
including its tamper-resistant seal - can be easily tampered with.

"I have very real concerns," Mr. Engel told The Globe about the
findings. It would be "very easy for an unscrupulous individual to
remove our product, replace with tainted product and then place a new
tamper-resistant heat seal on the product."

Mr. Engel then said he believed the former customer was intentionally
trying to hurt his company.

But there were several problems with the CEO's claim.

Mr. Engel said the customer in question told Organigram in a Jan. 25
e-mail that he would not return his recalled product, and wanted to
have it tested. However, the customer was unsure how much was left. To
Mr. Engel, this implied the containers had been opened.

Mr. Engel also said the patient had spoken "numerous times" with
Organigram's head of customer service, Kathy Cyr, and had made
"threats" toward the company.

However, Mr. Wood said he never sent any such e-mail to the company
and never spoke with Ms. Cyr, though he requested to speak with her,
but was denied by Organigram.

Mr. Wood provided The Globe and Mail with e-mails, recordings of phone
calls, and copies of his phone records. His instinct to catalogue
every interaction with the company came from his policing days, he

The Globe and Mail reviewed this information - including a 53 minute
recorded phone call Mr. Wood held with an Organigram senior executive
in January to seek more information about the chemicals found in the

When Mr. Engel was asked about that phone call, the CEO said he had no
record of it taking place. It was only after Mr. Engel was told that
The Globe listened to a recording of the call that Mr. Engel changed
his position: yes, in fact that phone call did take place.

Then, when he was informed that there was no record of an e-mail on
Jan. 25 - a central piece of the company's argument that the samples
could not be trusted - Mr. Engel backtracked, saying the e-mail didn't
exist. It was actually a phone call, he said.

Yet, no such call - incoming or outgoing - shows up in Mr. Wood's
phone records.

Mr. Wood is upset by the company's reaction.

"People are sick. I want to know what I was exposed to, so that I can
seek proper medical treatment," he said. "If they want to investigate
me, I welcome their investigation."

While these inconsistencies were being sorted out, Organigram sent
product samples from its internal archives for testing. Mr. Engel says
the samples came from the same product lots that Mr. Wood would have

Those tests, conducted at Vancouver's Anandia Labs, confirmed the
presence of the two banned pesticides involved in the original recall
- - myclobutanil and bifenazate - but came back negative for the
additional three MB Labs found - imazalil, tebuconazole and carbamate.

"We now consider this matter closed," Mr. Engel said in an e-mail to
The Globe, refusing to discuss the matter further. Dangerous
chemicals, difficult to find Health Canada does not consider the
matter of pesticides in the industry closed. The department and the
laboratories involved believe there is an explanation for the
discrepancies in the test results, and that any potential problems
should not be so easily dismissed.

Different labs can find different things, depending on the experience
of the technicians, the accuracy of the equipment being used, and
whether the samples being tested came from exactly the same plants -
or not.

Mr. Engel told The Globe that the facility Organigram chose for its
tests, Vancouver's Anandia Labs, uses the highest standards in Canada,
implying that Organigram's results were of the highest possible
accuracy. But Jonathan Page, head of Anandia, said that's not
necessarily the case.

"Our equipment is standard equipment," Mr. Page said of the lab that
began operating last summer. "We are among the most sensitive, but we
didn't invent a new machine that gives us an order-of-magnitude higher
sensitivity than other labs."

Mr. Page said it's possible his lab tested archived samples that came
from different plants in the harvest than the ones that went into the
prescriptions of Mr. Wood and others.

"We didn't find those compounds and another lab did, and at fairly
high levels," Mr. Page said. "Were there differences between the
sample we tested and what was tested elsewhere?"

Mr. Page said he'd be less skeptical had Organigram not already been
caught selling product containing banned pesticides - then claimed it
was unable to determine the root of the problem.

"Let's face it, they didn't get to the bottom of it," Mr. Page

Ms. Riggs at MB Labs says her facility has more than 30 years of
experience screening for pesticides, and certain compounds can be hard
to isolate.

Her lab began specializing in imazalil more than a decade ago when it
began showing up illicitly on greenhouse vegetables.

"Imazalil sulfate is a bugger," Ms. Riggs said. "It was a compound the
greenhouse industry for vegetables snuck in to deal with root rot -
because it worked. It wasn't legal, but they brought it in anyway. And
we knew at the time because of its chemistry that it was a difficult
compound to find."

Ms. Riggs said there would be obvious signals if the products had been
tampered with.

"A cooked sample usually stands out," Ms. Riggs said. "What happens is
you have a chemical profile that indicates that the chemical is in a
purer state" than it should be.

"It is extremely difficult for someone to do so, without leaving some
kind of a footprint behind."

Health Canada told The Globe and Mail it was not unusual to see
differing results between labs, since their approaches can differ.

"Depending on the methodologies used, validation of data, and
precision of equipment, it is possible and not unexpected to have
different results from different laboratories," the department said in
a statement. A new breed of drug companies Mr. Engel was named CEO in
March, part of an effort by Organigram to turn the page on its
pesticide recall problems, which had disrupted operations and hindered
the company's stock price, upsetting investors.

In hiring the new CEO, Organigram told investors it landed an industry
veteran, which was true.

Prior to joining Organigram, Mr. Engel had previously served as CEO of
a rival medical marijuana company, B.C.-based Tilray Inc.

However, during Mr. Engel's time at Tilray, lobbying records show the
company held backroom discussions with the B.C. government in an
effort to gain permission to use myclobutanil, which is banned in
Canada and the United States for use on cannabis, tobacco and other
combusted plants due to numerous health concerns, including the
discovery that it emits hydrogen cyanide when heated.

According to the B.C. lobbyists registry, Tilray asked the B.C.
government for help in getting federal approval for "emergency use" of
the pesticide when dealing with mildew infestations, and also for
"long term" use. The conversation was never intended to be public.

A Tilray spokesman said the effort was later halted when Health Canada
created a list of approved alternative fungicides that should be used
instead of the banned pesticide.

The effort would not have had much chance of succeeding, though. The
manufacturer, Dow AgroSciences, does not consider myclobutanil safe
for use on plants such as cannabis. When inhaled, the compound enters
the bloodstream directly through the lungs, without being broken down
by the digestive system. No studies have been done to determine
whether it is safe to be smoked, and Dow AgroSciences strictly warns
against inhalation.

The lobbying documents are an interesting glimpse inside the industry,
since the use of pesticides - legal or otherwise - is rarely discussed
in the open.

When medical marijuana companies like Organigram meet with investors,
they tout themselves not as weed growers or pot heads, but
sophisticated pharmaceutical businesses concerned with the health of
their clients.

Given the spate of pesticide recalls this year, it's a sales pitch
that doesn't always reflect reality.

At an investor conference in Toronto in April, Mr. Engel pitched
Organigram to a crowd of several hundred potential shareholders from
Bay Street investment firms, telling them about the company's focus on
producing high-quality medicine.

>From there, the CEO focused on how big the market was going to be once
legalization arrived in Canada, and how companies like his stood to

The medical marijuana market was a few billion dollars now, he said.
But the industry payday from legalization could be worth much more.

Even better for the industry, Mr. Engel told the audience, is the
Canadian government had chosen companies like Organigram to supply
this lucrative new market.

"Licensed producers are the preferred source for safe product," he
told the audience. He did not mention the pesticide problems
Organigram had encountered. Lab data blacked out Patients who consumed
the tainted marijuana are now searching for answers about their
health. Some former Organigram customers, like Wayne Jory, are worried.

Mr. Jory, a 55-year-old homebuilder and father, was never a marijuana
smoker. He was prescribed Organigram's products starting in late 2014
after surgery to repair a herniated disc. He disliked the morphine he
was given after the operation and found medical marijuana had fewer
side effects.

Mr. Jory researched the industry carefully before settling on
Organigram, selecting the company because they touted their product as
safe, organic, and pesticide-free.

For a while there were no problems. But in May, 2016, Mr. Jory began
to notice his lungs burning for days on end, his heart racing
inexplicably, and pain shooting through his muscles. He soon began
shedding weight - dropping 40 pounds from his 215pound frame in only a
few months. He felt tired all the time, and was dogged by severe,
inexplicable bouts of nausea.

"Simple tasks like climbing stairs seemed to drain all my energy. My
joints were aching," he said. "I could barely climb a ladder, and when
I did, I felt unstable and dizzy."

His doctor was baffled. X-rays on Mr. Jory's lungs came back negative,
as did basic blood tests.

"The fatigue was unreal," Mr. Jory said. "In January I went back to my
doctor, he ordered more blood tests, and I was told that if I lost any
more weight I'd have to get myself to the hospital."

Mr. Jory soon learned about the Organigram recall. Once the problem
came to light, his doctor wanted to know exactly how much of the
chemicals Mr. Jory had been exposed to, but the company only gave
vague numbers for the whole recall, not specifics.

Mr. Jory then filed a request to Health Canada through Access to
Information, seeking to know the exact chemical content of each
product lot he ingested.

He was surprised to learn in May that he was not entitled to such

Mr. Jory was told by the Access to Information and Privacy
commissioner for Health Canada that the data he sought was being
withheld because it "could result in material financial loss" to a
third party.

In his case, that third party was Organigram.

Instead, Mr. Jory received numerous pages of records with the
information blacked out, citing privacy laws that, in his case,
protected the company - not the consumer.

"They basically just want to bury this," Mr. Jory said. "And I
understand why - it's everybody's dirty laundry."

Patients who contact Health Canada complaining of health problems are
told to file an Adverse Reaction Report, which is how the government
tracks problems with prescription drugs. However, these filings are
usually just anecdotal reports that are used for data-keeping purposes.

The Globe has talked to more than a dozen patients who say nothing
happens when you file such a report.

Nicolette Lutz of Listowel, Ont., submitted two reports to Health
Canada after falling ill from medical marijuana that was later
recalled by Organigram.

Her symptoms included abdominal pains, constant burning in her lungs
and throat, and a strange buildup of mucous. She couldn't eat, she
itched constantly and her skin broke out in painful cyst-like sores
across her neck, arms, chest and stomach.

"The worst was the abdominal pain," said Ms. Lutz, 35, who turned to
medical marijuana reluctantly to help with chronic insomnia, and
assumed it was safe because it was federally regulated.

"There was one night, my husband was sitting beside me on the bed just
holding my hand, trying to help me breathe, because I felt like I was
going to pass out. It was just so incredibly bad."

Ms. Lutz never heard from Health Canada, and doesn't know if they read
the reports she filed. She later e-mailed the department directly to
warn them she thought something was seriously wrong with the product,
but received a standard response with some links to the government's

When she e-mailed Organigram in February to complain about her
symptoms, she was offered a refund, but was told she would have to
sign a legal release form.

In exchange for a $95 refund, Ms. Lutz would have to agree to "hold
harmless Organigram … from any and all liability and damages."

The form included a "confidentiality undertaking" that would prevent
her from discussing the matter publicly, and a "non-disparagement"
agreement - which stated she could not "criticize, ridicule or make
any statement which disparages or is derogatory" toward Organigram or
its directors, including posts on social media.

She didn't sign the form. Eight months after her symptoms emerged,
many of the problems persist. Unable to find answers with her local
doctor, she is travelling to a clinic in Seattle next week that
specializes in toxicology.

She persisted. But Mr. Jory says some people have given

"There are others that are too tired to fight," Mr. Jory said. "We're
talking about people with cancer. They've got all these other health
issues and this was just added on top and they don't have the energy
to fight it."

The Globe contacted Health Minister Jane Philpott's office several
times this year to ask whether the government plans to look into the
health problems some patients are reporting, or at least re-examine
the public statement issued by the department that said the risk of
adverse health consequences from the recall is "remote," when the
evidence suggests that is not the case.

Ms. Philpott's spokesman has said repeatedly the Minister has no

Following the recall, Health Canada attached new conditions to
Organigram's operating licence requiring that a licensed laboratory
test all of its products.

"Prior to the release and sale of all of our products, we provide the
test data to Health Canada for their review," Mr. Engel said this
week. "Following their review we are then in a position to release the
product for sale."

But Mr. Jory said more should be done, including an investigation into
the health problems people have suffered. Things would be different,
he said, if the people who are now sick had bought the product off the
street, where there are no regulations or supposed oversight. But
people like him thought they were buying a government regulated
medicine that was safe to consume.

He wonders what will happen if the problems aren't solved by the time
the government legalizes marijuana for recreational use next year,
when consumption in Canada is expected to rise sharply.

"When this stuff becomes recreational, they're going to be shooting it
out the door because they can't keep up to the demand," Mr. Jory said.
"It's just asking for problems." Mr. Wood sympathizes. "Medically,
there's a lot of people looking for answers," he said. "I had a
military guy tell me he was using [the recalled product] every day.
He's a combat veteran with PTSD. Why should a combat veteran who risks
his ass come home, get poisoned, and then the Health Minister says we
have no comment?" Mr. Wood said. New safety measures Health Canada
announced a few months ago that it will now require all of the roughly
50 federally regulated medical marijuana companies to submit to
mandatory pesticide testing before products can be sold, to ensure
they are clean, and that consumers can trust the industry.

When The Globe informed Health Canada of the test results showing
previously unreported pesticides in Mr. Wood's prescription, the
department responded swiftly, asking to examine the data.

"As the department responsible for regulating medical cannabis, Health
Canada is very interested in the information you have collected," the
department said in an e-mail.

"The department takes the information you shared seriously."

A week later, after speaking directly with MB Labs about how the tests
were conducted, Health Canada said it was making several more changes
to the way the industry and Organigram operates.

"Since learning of the results of tests conducted by MB Labs, Health
Canada has taken a number of additional actions."

Health Canada said the lab used by Organigram for its newly mandated
safety testing, which is located in New Brunswick, will now be
required to screen for a wider array of pesticides - including the
same ones that showed up in Mr. Wood's tests.

The lab has added "imazalil and tebuconazole to the testing for more
than 70 pesticides that it currently conducts," Health Canada said.

The department said it is now also taking steps to address
discrepancies in results from different labs across the country, so
more situations don't emerge where one lab is unable to detect
pesticides that another could.

"Health Canada is preparing to provide a standard laboratory
methodology for pesticide testing in cannabis to licenced producers,
which can be used by all third-party laboratories. This should reduce
the likelihood of discrepancies between laboratories," the department

"We would like to thank you for bringing this information to our

While those are promising steps, Mr. Wood said what those affected
need most now is better medical advice - from toxicologists or other
specialists who can assist them.

He has since travelled to the United States in search of assistance,
and has paid thousands of dollars out of pocket for testing and
treatment at the Mayo Clinic. He doesn't want to end up in the ER again.

"I'm 53 years old and I was a fit person. So I want to know what is
wrong with me," he said.
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