HC: 28 targeted inspections and 3 compliance verifications so far this year to verify THC levels

| David Brown

Health Canada has conducted more than two dozen inspections of cannabis producers this year for the purpose of verifying the THC level of cannabis products.

All products inspected thus far were found to be compliant. 

In response to a media request from StratCann, a representative with the federal health authority says that they have conducted 28 targeted inspections and three compliance verifications of federal cannabis licence holders.

Licence holders with several high-THC products, greater than 25 percent THC, in the retail market were selected for the targeted inspections. The additional three compliance verifications were those associated with an external complaint.

So far, 27 of those reports were found to be compliant, and the results from another four are still pending. 

The issue of high THC products, primarily cannabis flower, is contentious in the cannabis industry. While research often shows that the THC percentage in most cannabis flower is in the high teens to low twenties, increasingly, many cannabis flowers on the market advertise having well over 30 percent THC, something considered statistically improbable but not impossible.

Such instances have prompted many in the industry, from labs to producers, consumers, and retailers, to call on the federal and even provincial governments to do more to ensure that THC levels reported on labels are accurate. 

Earlier this year, Rob O’Brien, the CEO and CSO of Supra Research and Development in Kelowna, BC, shared his own independent testing results online from 46 different cannabis products he purchased from BC Cannabis Stores.  

He says the results of his tests show significant variations in the cannabis flower he tested compared to what was stated on the label. In some cases, there was more than a 40 percent difference. In one example, results showed a product labelled at 34 percent THC to be only 19 percent with his testing.

Those results are available here, here, and here.

This past July, Health Canada announced it would launch a new data-gathering program on cannabis markets in Canada that will include sampling and testing of both legal and illegal products currently in the market. 

Health Canada routinely inspects cannabis facilities and conducts secondary testing on cannabis but maintains it does not inspect cannabis labs that provide the results used by these cannabis producers. 

Health Canada’s cannabis laboratory does the testing, explains Tammy Jarbeau, a senior media relations advisor at Health Canada, in her email to StratCann. The same laboratory also provides analytical testing for illicit cannabis that Canadian law enforcement agencies have seized.  

As part of the program, Health Canada’s Regulatory Operations and Enforcement Branch (ROEB) Cannabis Laboratory will randomly purchase cannabis products from authorized retailers in Canada. 

Although no data from this program, the Cannabis Data Gathering Program (CDGP), is yet available, Jarbeau says that summary reports on its findings will be published on an ongoing basis, sharing the results anonymously, “without reference to the name or brand of the products tested, or to the manufacturers of these products.”

Several provinces have released testing results of illicit products obtained via law enforcement actions. In 2022, Ontario shared a study that showed illicit edibles have significantly less THC than advertised and high levels of pesticides. New Brunswick and British Columbia have also released similar testing results from illicit products.

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