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Vancouver councillor ‘shocked’ feds failed to warn about toxic pot
A Vancouver city councillor is outraged after learning the federal government didn’t warn the city about dangerous toxins found in cannabis sold in local dispensaries.
Coun. Kerry Jang says he is “shocked and appalled” that federal Health Minister Jane Philpott knew about the lab results for more than a year, but took no action to prevent the sale of potentially toxic marijuana.
"She could have issued a warning, she could have informed the city of Vancouver, she could have informed the health authority,” said Jang. “But [she] did nothing about it at all.”
Freedom of Information requests filed by the Globe and Mail show tests done last year on cannabis from several local dispensaries contained pesticides and fungicides “not approved for any human use.”
Philpott issued a statement on Friday confirming that her staff received the lab results, and that copies were also sent to Health Canada employees.
The samples tested were from illegal marijuana dispensaries, Philpott added, noting that if the data is valid the results are “unsurprising.”
“As Minister of Health, I have stated repeatedly that storefront dispensaries are illegal, and products sold there are untested and should not be used,” Philpott said in the statement.
“Our government has issued numerous statements to warn the public that they should not be purchasing products from dispensaries, compassion clubs or other illegal organizations and individuals... [this] bolsters our government’s position that Canadians who require marijuana for medical purposes should only be accessing it through Health Canada’s Cannabis for Medical Purposes program.”
Jang disagrees with this logic.
“People around the region are smoking pot, and when you know some of it has pesticides in it you should say something about it,” he said. “Being legal or illegal has nothing to do with it at this point.”
The Village Dispensary owner Jeremy Jacob says he supports regular testing of his product. About 400,000 Canadians are using dispensaries, he adds, and customers should know exactly what they’re buying.
“If a government is trying to regulate an industry but they're not really investigating and understanding that industry, they have the potential to do a lot of harm," added Jacob.
With the city doing what it can to regulate the industry on a local level, Jang says health aspects are clearly the responsibility of the Health Minister.
“At the end of the day, it's up to the health department to issue those health warnings and say to people, 'Do your testing. Make it legal to test your pot,’” said Jang.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Julie Nolin