Illegal Pesticides Found in Major Canadian Cannabis Cultivation

Written by Cara Wietstock

In the first few months of 2017, Health Canada announced that they would be randomly testing medical cannabis products. They are specifically looking for the use pesticides that have been prohibited. This enforcement is an assurance for medical cannabis patients in the country. After this necessary assessment of cultivation additives, Canadians will be able to trust their medicine. Unfortunately, the very first results from this random testing came up positive for minute trace amounts of myclobutanil. This pesticide is a common treatment for mildew but is barred from being used on plants that will be smoked. When heated, myclobutanil produces hydrogen cyanide. Although these initial results are negative, the hands-on approach of Health Canada gives us hope that the issue will be remediated.

cannabis cultivation

The results in question resulted from plants grown by Hydropothecary. Since the negative results hit newsstands, Hydropothecary has halted all shipments and sales. The product that tested positive for the pesticide was a mother plant in the cultivation. In a cannabis cultivation, the mother plant is used to create clones. Now the company is working closely with Health Canada in order to properly follow the next steps. They will be screening all of their products for safety and posting the results on their website as soon as they’re made available. They are also testing each batch of plants that have been cultivated using the mother to check if the trace amounts transferred over.


Hydropothecary is the fourth company to controversially test positive for harmful additives. Aurora Cannabis Inc., Organigram Inc., and Mettrum Ltd. all tested positive for either myclobutanil or bifenazate in a period of less than six months. This isn’t a sign that the industry is losing integrity, however. It is a sign that Health Canada has ceased letting the industry police itself. The levels of myclobutanil found in Hydropothecary’s mother plants was less than 0.05%. This is much smaller than the other companies found to be using illegal pesticides in the country.


The effects of inhaling myclobutanil have never been studied. Even so, many companies who have been found using the product claim that trace amounts do not harm the human body. These dangerous claims don’t have any foundation of truth. In fact, trace amounts of chemicals can wreak havoc on the body. These products are coming out of the medical cannabis industry, That means patients with compromised immune systems could have used these products, a feat that could result in death. In fact, there have been reports of consistent health problems with patients who have been exposed to the pesticide.


This danger to the public hasn’t been ignored, as Health Canada begins to seriously assess the illegal pesticides being utilized across the nation’s cannabis cultivations. Though their first findings have turned up controversial, the fact that they’re testing down to 0.015% is a move in the right direction. Medical cannabis should be safe and clean, any pesticides used in cultivation could harm a patient with a compromised immune system. Side effects of a patient like this smoking dirty cannabis could even go as far as death.


About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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