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Dangerous chemicals, inconsistent THC scores found in illicit cannabis products seized by police

Dec 8, 2021 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

“The test results are clear evidence that consumers don’t know what they’re getting when they purchase illegal cannabis products and how important it is to know the facts.”

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The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) wants you to drop your dealer.


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The OPP submitted a number of seized cannabis products, including cannabis vapes and dried flower, to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), a government agency, to test for pesticides and THC scores.

A number of pesticides, including myclobutanil, a chemical fungicide, were found at “dangerous levels” in the samples. Additionally, the tests revealed that the THC content for the seized products was consistently lower than advertised.

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According to the OPP, most of the 28 vapes tested did not list THC levels on the packaging. However, six products claimed to have a THC content greater than 90 per cent. Each of those samples returned a THC score between 45 and 60 per cent.


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The pesticide analysis fared no better. The NRC tested for 96 pesticides that are specified in Health Canada’s Mandatory Cannabis Testing for Pesticide Active Ingredients. Every sample tested returned high levels of pesticides, according to the news release, particularly myclobutanil.

The samples showed myclobutanil ranged from 0.3 parts per million (ppm) to over 500 ppm, several thousand times higher than the detection limits set by Health Canada. According to the OPP, myclobutanil can generate hydrogen cyanide when heated, a toxic compound linked to various cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological illnesses.

As for the six flower samples, myclobutanil was again present in every test in concentrations higher than the Health Canada limit. Other fungicides, such as metalaxyl, chlorpyrifos and pyridine, were also present, sometimes at levels 100 times higher than Health Canada’s limits.


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The federal department introduced mandatory testing for pesticide active ingredients in January 2019.

An Access to Information request from Global News in 2019 led to the release of some of Health Canada’s cannabis testing data. It showed that just five per cent of cannabis products in Canada grown by licensed producers tested positive for banned or restricted pesticides.

The vast majority of those cases showed levels of pesticides within permissible limits.

In its news release, the OPP notes that pesticides can pose a risk for local environments, not just consumers.

Last year, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, found that one illicit cannabis operation was dumping liquid fertilizer into a stormwater pond that was discharged into a municipal drain.


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“Approximately 75,000 containers of soil were found at the location, and through a small sample collection, the presence of several hazardous pesticides that require special management were identified,” the release states.

The OPP also reports that its Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team has arrested 694 individuals over the last two years and seized nearly $500 million worth of illicit cannabis, about 450,000 plants and 12.5 million grams of dried cannabis.

“The OPP remains committed to unmasking the threats inherent with criminal cannabis. We will continue work with our various partners to expose the health and public safety risks related to the illegal market. The test results are clear evidence that consumers don’t know what they’re getting when they purchase illegal cannabis products and how important it is to know the facts,” Rachel Huggins, OPP deputy director, said in a statement.


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