Over the past couple of years, three different versions of regulations have governed the production and sale of medicinal cannabis in Canada, starting with the MMAR, then the MMPR, and now the new revised ACMPR. This means there is a lot of work in keeping up to date with changes.
An evolving regulatory landscape has meant that not everyone understands where to get legal cannabis goods or how to know if they are safe. With the upcoming recreational market ready to pounce for 2017, there are a few important things that anyone growing at home or with a designated grower should know.
Our lab (Eurofins Experchem) has worked as a Health Canada accredited facility for over 30 years. When the MMAR was in effect, our lab could test cannabis for potency and safety for those who were producing it. Back then, cannabis was listed as one of the authorized substances we could handle under our narcotics licence. But we did not receive requests from MMAR growers to test their products.
As the MMPR unrolled and commercial Licensed Producers became mainstream, we received communications from Health Canada informing us that we could only handle cannabis received from Licensed Producers; we could no longer test cannabis from any other source with our narcotics licence.
This restriction was confusing for us, and also for those who had grandfathered MMAR licenses. Perhaps even more in the dark were public consumers purchasing from dispensaries that they had been assured were legal storefronts.
Our lab had patients show up with their MMAR paperwork insisting they were licensed to carry cannabis. We had a mother call us crying because her baby had epilepsy and she had no way to ensure the cannabis oils she was feeding her was safe. Other people phoned looking to provide cannabis to their loved-ones: elderly parents with arthritis, or sisters with cancer.
We wanted to help, but if we did we would have been breaking the law and risking the livelihoods of around 100 of our employees and associates. Everyone who called us knew that cannabis must have benefits. They wanted to try cannabis to treat their ailments, but no one knew if it was safe. Many of them were at the point where they were willing to take the risk, even though they shouldn’t have to.
Because we are a lab focussed on product safety, many of the cannabis consumer calls felt like nightmares to us.
What if any of the other products we routinely test were not authorized for testing? Hospital sterilization equipment and fluids could be contaminated, children’s cough syrup could be overdosed, eye drops and nasal sprays could cause infection, and acetaminophen could be made of baking powder or chalk – no one would know the difference without testing.
Cannabis is available, like any other consumer product, but it wasn’t until the introduction of the ACMPR earlier this month that we feel it may actually have a chance to be regulated like any other consumer product.
A few days ago, we received communications from Health Canada notifying us that all those individuals growing cannabis under the ACMPR will soon have the option to test their products. Keep an eye out, the list of accredited labs will be publicly available soon. Eventually, we hope, from a public health and consumer safety angle, that all cannabis will soon be treated equally and eligible for testing.
What will be the fate for Canada’s industry? Time will soon tell. Have a question or want to learn more about the application process? Feel free to get in touch anytime with our Business Development Manager Tegan Adams:firstname.lastname@example.org 416 665 2134 ext 252.
-Tegan Adams MSc
Tegan is the Business Development Manager at Eurofins Experchem Laboratories Inc.