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Health Canada has recalled a shipment of medical cannabis for the second time in just over a month, citing that the cannabis is “unfit for human consumption.”
The pot in question had unacceptable levels of bacteria living within it. Only about 55 customers were affected by the recall. None that consumed the cannabis have become ill.
The company Peace Naturals produced the bacteria laden cannabis and has shut down operations until the problem can be remedied. The bacteria growth was due to a high level of moisture in the cannabis that had been stored for eight weeks in their vault. While their product was not a high health hazard, the stored cannabis was deemed not fit nonetheless. Any natural product stored in a high moisture environment is prone to bacteria growth.
Licensed producers are regulated by Health Canada and are subject to regular inspections and must meet strict security and quality control practices. Using this incident as an example, it seems that there are still a few kinks to work out for high volume cannabis producers.
“Scale cannabis at the commercial level is way more difficult to produce than most people think,” Peace Naturals CEO Marc Gobuty told the Huffington Post.
Commercial marijuana growers must submit regular samples of their product to a third party lab for testing. If the lab concludes that there is a high level of bacteria or fungus present, the grower has the option of disposing of the tainted cannabis or subjecting it to gamma radiation in order to kill the offending substance. The cannabis is then sent back to the lab to determine if the gamma radiation treatment has worked. If it has, the cannabis is sold. If it is still too highly contaminated, the cannabis is destroyed. Health Canada requires the disposal of any form of marijuana to be mixed with water and kitty litter. It can then be disposed of as ordinary waste.
Greenleaf Medicinals, one of the first commercial growers to be licensed to produce medical cannabis was delisted after Health Canada learned of improper and incomplete record keeping. The loss of an entire crop as well as a lawsuit over the company name forced Greenleaf Medicinals to cease all operations. They are currently in the process of revamping their record keeping practices and are changing their name to Broken Coast Cannabis.
Currently, there are 13 commercial growers licensed by Health Canada to produce medicinal marijuana. There are hundreds of other commercial growers waiting for Health Canada approval.