Organigram settles class action lawsuit for pesticide poisoning

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Canada established a formal medical cannabis program at the end of 2013. Health Canada eventually mandated tests following incidents with banned pesticides. Despite this, an incident occurred in 2016 involving unauthorized sprays used on cannabis produced by Organigram. Several patients reported illnesses after using OGI’s tainted product. This led to class action lawsuit against Organigram approved by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in 2019. This month, in the middle of 2022, Organigram agreed to settle the lawsuit with refunds and legal fees.

Pesticides and lawsuits

Third party tests revealed that cannabis produced by the New Brunswick cultivator contained:

  1. Bifenazate
  2. Malathion
  3. Myclobutanil

Several lots of cannabis were subject to type two and three recalls in 2016 and at the beginning of 2017. The recall was due to potential contamination with unauthorized sprays. As such, patients who purchased cannabis covered by a voluntary or involuntary recall before February 14, 2019, are considered class members. And class members will receive refunds as part of the $2.3M CAD settlement.

A timeline documenting the class action lawsuit against Organigram was included in a news release by Wagners, the firm that filed the proposed class action. Whereas, Organigram published a separate news release on their website further documenting the settlement.

Organigram class action lawsuit

Refunds without personal injury

Dawn Rae Downton, the representative plaintiff, argued personal injury. The Supreme Court of Canada, however, refused to acknowledge an adverse health event. To accommodate this, Wagners amended their pleadings to remove any claims of personal injury. The Plaintiffs filed the final amendment on January 18, 2022. Yet, Wagners did not announce the update until April 25, 2022.

Following the amendment, the $2.3M settlement accounts for:

  • Refunds
  • Legal fees
  • Administrative costs.

Patients have been forced to remain content, even after alleging they were poisoned by Organigram’s tainted pot. The Licensed Producer admitted to their wrongdoing. But are refunds enough action for the class members?

Rubbing Organigram under the Health Minister’s skin

Organigram earned a repertoire for poisoning the populous, and not just patients. And the incident with myclobutanil-laced medical marijuana adds to their resume. The company began producing cannabinoids in a new section of their facility, whether from plants or yeast. In any case, cooling fans became clogged with infectious bacteria. The company allowed Legionella, a bacteria that can travel several kilometres in the air, to pool in a new cooling tower.

Organigram caused sixteen cases of Legionnaire’s Disease in 2019. And fourteen separate cases against the company dropped on the same day in December of 2021. The news remained silent on Organigram’s wrongdoings for three more months, though. In March and June of this year, the Minister of Health of the Province of New Brunswick responded to this author’s respective email requests. But the second correspondence simply questioned the impact of the first, which focused on Organigram.

A bill that imposes mandatory testing on cooling towers in the province was proposed eight days after Shephard first responded to this author. And two days after the Minister’s second response, a freedom of Information request previously withheld from CBC was released to the state-owned news agency. The request released on June 5 covers two outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease in the region. Further documented in the newly released information — first requested by CBC in August last year — was a lack of proper procedure on behalf of Organigram.

Let us know in the comments if you think the settlement is fair.





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