Health Canada suspends licence of Winnipeg marijuana producer

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Health Canada has suspended the sales license of an embattled Winnipeg-based cannabis producer after it was found to be non-compliant with the federal Cannabis Act.

The country’s federal health arm revoked the license on Monday following a review of recent activities with Bonify Medical Cannabis “to protect public health and public safety.”

In December, Bonify fired its three senior managers and suspended a board member after somehow obtaining 200 kilograms of unauthorized pot. Two of its strains — Cherry Lime Pie and Warlock Kush (both 3.5-gram varieties) — were found to be contaminated.

An internal investigation into Bonify also found that some of its employees were pressured to remain silent after voicing their concerns over the product.

The investigation failed to identify the source of the questionable cannabis, of which it found 52 units, or 182 grams, was sold to consumers in Saskatchewan.

“The Department found that Bonify Medical Cannabis was possessing, distributing and selling product that was purchased from an illegal source, and selling product that did not comply with the Good Production Practices as required under the cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations,” said Tammy Jarbeau, senior media relations advisor for Health Canada.

Bonify has 10 days to respond to the suspension and to provide Health Canada with reasons why the suspension is unfounded or other information that Health Canada should take into consideration.

Jarbeau said Bonify will be held under close monitoring to rectify the issue.

The matter has also been referred to the RCMP.

“This enforcement action reinforces the importance of Health Canada’s regular inspections of cannabis licence holders to identify non-compliance and to protect the integrity of Canada’s legal cannabis production system,” Jarbeau said. “Health Canada will continue to undertake unannounced inspections of cannabis licence holders to help ensure that they are in compliance with the law and regulations.”

Premier Brian Pallister called the incident a “black day” for pot sales, and fumed that the province only found out about the tainted produced a week-and-a-half after Health Canada was notified by Bonify that it had reached the legal stream.

“Ensuring the health and safety of Manitobans has been our number one priority throughout the legalization process,” Pallister said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “We expect Health Canada to assure the quality and safety of legal cannabis products produced under federal license. We believe Health Canada is taking appropriate action in suspending the company’s sales license. As we’ve said from the beginning, the move to legalization was rushed and we expect the federal government will implement additional safeguards to protect the integrity of the legal cannabis supply chain.”

Bonify owns a 320,000 sq. ft. production facility in Winnipeg.

The Sun has reached out to Bonify for comment.

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