The Globe and Mail published an article on laboratories in Canada offering to test cannabis supplied by dispensaries.
Health Canada accredited labs after they sent an urgent request in a memo to laboratories across the country to ask if they would be willing to test cannabis safety under a new federal program. The program recognized that laboratory testing of cannabis was an urgent consideration to protect the health and safety of citizens.
Close to 20 labs across the country agreed to offer independent testing of cannabis in accordance with the federal government’s request. Consumers are now allowed to screen a product used as medicine for potency and contaminants.
The public was not previously allowed access to Health Canada’s accredited labs to test for safety and potency. After concerns were raised, and with some accusing government of negligently watching while unregulated cannabis dispensaries with questionable product safety are proliferating across Canada, action has been taken.
Lab testing is now available in Canada
Lab testing is now available to Canadians seeking it due to the exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which previously prevented facilities from holding any amount of the substance on site. Now, anyone with a prescription from a doctor who purchased cannabis from a regulated supplier can have it tested after appropriate paperwork is done.
The easily obtained paperwork can be completed online, and even though Health Canada still considers hundreds of dispensaries to be illegal, the change allows customers from these dispensaries or operators to have products tested too.
Jonathan Page from Anandia Labs called the decision of Health Canada “quite significant”, and considers it a big step forward. Patients had no access to tests, and it was a moral decision to make the change, he said.
Safety of products for medicinal use is crucial, and labs had to turn parents of severely epileptic children, or elderly patients using oil to ease arthritic pain or other conditions away. If labs did these tests in the past, they would have been breaking the law.
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The issue is clarified
Wendy Riggs from M.B. Laboratories Ltd. said labs are dependent on the federal government for their licenses, and fear of loosing licenses prevented testing in the past. She said she is relieved, and she is glad the issue was clarified.
The labs include a cross section of facilities including independent labs that test pharmaceutical products, university laboratories, and forensic and research labs.
The whole spectrum of tests for chemicals, heavy metals, contaminants and microorganisms would come to $1,000 per sample, but for the most needed tests for a patient to know the cannabis they are using is safe, it could be less than a few hundred dollars.
Ms. Riggs and Mr. Page both said there is already an increase in inquiries from groups of suppliers, or collective growers looking into pooling resources to have products tested. They think this is very positive, because it makes people aware of safety, and the responsibility towards patients and people who depend on the quality of the drug.
Mostly concerned about microbes
Most people are mainly concerned about potency, and microbes such as bacteria, and mold, which are dangerous to patients with compromised immune systems. Testing for microbes is relatively in expensive, but it is important for patients to gain more understanding of what they are using as a medicine said Mr. Page.
Three cheers for Canada Health for implementing its plan for improved cannabis safety. Let’s hope this becomes the trend across the globe. Informed consumers can now ensure correct cannabinoid doses and check product safety, while producers are now more likely to take adequate anti-contamination precautions.