Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, November 22, 2018 7:17 PM EST
A cannabis producer in Ontario has issued a voluntary recall of one of its products after at least five complaints were filed about marijuana purchased through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) containing mold.
An OCS customer, who wished to remain anonymous, told CTV News Toronto that she checked the products she had been using for about a week after reading mold compalints on Reddit.
"That's when I found mold on the pot, after I had already consumed some," she said. "I do not even know what kind of mold it is. I'd never considered before to even look for that. "
She said that while she has not experienced any adverse reactions from the mold, she is concerned about how it appeared.
"In this case, where you expect it to be government-regulated by Health Canada, I should not need to be going back and inspecting it a week later."
In a statement issued on Thursday, Ontario-based licensed cannabis producer RedeCan said that it received one complaint about the mold on Nov. 18. Since then, the company has received four other consumer complaints about the same issue.
"At this point, it appears that the reports are limited to a single lot of a particular strain called" B.E.C. "and packaged in 3.5 gram bottles. RedeCan has visually inspected the batch samples of this lot that it is required to retain by Health Canada and has found no evidence of any mold in these samples, "the statement reads.
"At this early stage in our investigation, it is not a simple matter to determine how, when or why mold could have appeared in five bottles in a single lot. The cannabis is grown, produced and packaged at our facilities, but is marketed and sold through OCS. Some of the records are in its hands, and OCS and RedeCan are working in cooperation to obtain and analyze this data. The investigation is ongoing. "
RedeCan said it is "voluntarily requesting the return" of all units of the B.E.C. brand. The company said it will cooperate with Health Canada to test and independently verify batch samples.
"At RedeCan, we are devoted to producing high quality cannabis products. Not only do we accept that we have a responsibility to comply with Industry Standards relating to the production and distribution of cannabis products, but we strive actively to exceed expectations in this regard. "
RedeCan also responded to allegations that some of its products may contain dead bugs. Someone posted a video on YouTube alleging they found insects in their cannabis, which was ordered through OSC. The video shows small holes in the cannabis and the person voicing the video alleges they were caused by burrowing insects.
In a separate statement, RedeCan said that the "black specks" seen in photographs and video are "harmless non-volatile organic matter."
"There are no dead bugs in RedeCan product. There are no holes that have been burrowed by insects, "the company said.
The holes referenced in the video were introduced mechanically, RedeCan said.
The company went on to say that its products are all grown organically and while the cannabis may have been exposed to insects at some point, they do not live within the plants and are removed during processing.
Jodie Emery, a cannabis rights advocate, believes the model of housing cannabis inside a big facility and then shipping it out at a later date is contributing to the problem.
"For most consumers, mold is not a problem because the growers they encounter are trying to create a wonderful top-quality product and when cannabis is able to move quickly from harvest to consumer it does not have a chance to sit around getting mold, "Emery said.
"Most consumers who access cannabis in dispensaries are able to walk in and look at the cannabis itself. With the new approach to legalization, all the cannabis has to be pre-packaged. That means consumers can not make the safe choice of examining their medicine and their cannabis before buying it. "
OCS told CTV News Toronto in a statement that it is aware of the mold complaints and that it is the licensed producer's responsibility to test and package products.
"The OCS works only with licensed producers authorized by Health Canada, and they are required to test their products for mold and other microorganisms, and to package products in sealed containers prior to delivery to the OCS," the statement reads. "OCS is taking the necessary steps to address these issues with relevant licensed producers to ensure compliance with Health Canada regulations and that quality products are delivered to OCS.ca and our customers."
Customers can contact the store's customer service line to arrange for a refund, the OSC said.