B.C.’s “community safety unit” and police raid an unlicensed cannabis store in Sooke, Oct. 27, 2019. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

B.C.’s “community safety unit” and police raid an unlicensed cannabis store in Sooke, Oct. 27, 2019. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Illegal cannabis often contaminated with pesticides, B.C. study finds

Bacteria, heavy metals also present in some seized samples

The B.C. government is warning cannabis buyers to avoid illegally grown products, after a pilot study found most samples from unlicensed sources were contaminated with fungicides and other hazardous substances.

The samples were taken from dried cannabis seized by B.C.’s dedicated cannabis community safety unit and tested in a lab to see if they met federal standards for legal sales. A total of 20 samples from six illicit storefronts around Metro Vancouver were collected in February and tested, and 18 of them contained pesticide residues. Only three samples were found to be consistent with the standards for legal sales.

“The lab found 24 distinct pesticides, with almost every sample containing at least one,” B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said June 9. “There were also unacceptable levels of bacteria, fungi or heavy metals in many of the samples.”

The pilot test results were released by the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, showing detectable levels of contaminants in 18 of the 20 samples. The most commonly detected was a fungicide called myclobutanil in 16 of the 18 samples, followed by a plant growth regulator called paclobutrazol and an insecticide, spiromesifen. Traces of bacteria, heavy metals and other contaminants were also detected

B.C. started its community safety unit when cannabis was legalized across Canada two and a half years ago, and so far 160 illegal stores have been shut down or have closed voluntarily, Farnworth said. He highlighted another discovery by enforcement authorities, products in packages that imitate well-known brands of cookies, candies and snacks.

“With their familiar images, colours and names, these are obviously a attractive to children,” Farnworth said. “But their content isn’t candy, it’s illicit cannabis, often with a THC concentration that exceeds legal product limits by 10 times or more.”

RELATED: No surge in pandemic pot sales, B.C. sales figures show

RELATED: B.C. allows retailers windows, imposes staff training

B.C. had the most established illegal cannabis market in Canada when the federal government declared recreational sales legal in October of 2018. Farnworth said B.C.’s experience is similar to Colorado, which went from 100 per cent illegal sales to 70 per cent legal in four years.

Growth of legal sales is shown by recent sales figures from B.C.’s network of government and licensed private stores. In March 2020, legal sales totalled about $20 million, and in March of this year, sales were more than doubled to $43 million.

“When you buy from a licensed seller, you can trust the label on the product, you know that you’re supporting legitimate, local businesses and workers, and you be assured that tax revenue will go to public services that we all rely on, such as health care and education, not into the pockets of illegal retailers or organized crime,” Farnworth said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicscannabis

Just Posted

An SUV sits where it crashed through the front window of the 2:18 Run store in Fairfield Plaza, after the driver appeared to lose control on Monday afternoon. (Photo by Phil Nicholls)
Driver crashes through front window of Victoria running store in Fairfield

Phil Nicholls of 2:18 Run said crash sounded like an earthquake at first

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is calling on Transport Canada to rescind its ban to Feb. 28, 2022 on cruise ship stops in Canada, to allow planning to begin in advance of a reopening of the cruise industry next year.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO hopes cruises will resume by 2022

Seismic upgrading and expansion work at Victoria High School is about a year behind due to pandemic-related factors, the Greater Victoria School District announced. (Photo by Cole Descoteau)
Victoria High School seismic work, expansion a year behind schedule

Greater Victoria School District now targeting September 2023 for reopening of historic school

Elk Lake Drive area resident Michael Blayney protests a proposed multi-building development for his Royal Oak neighbourhood, outside Saanich municipal hall on Monday (June 14). (Photo by Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Demonstrators protest 11-storey development on Elk Lake Drive in Saanich

Saanich locals gather at municipal hall to protest development, public hearing goes Tuesday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Port Hardy cancels Canada Day celebrations in wake of Kamloops mass grave site revelation

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read