A class-action lawsuit over packaging mislabeling filed in a Calgary court is taking aim at some of the Canadian cannabis market’s biggest names. Tilray, Aurora Cannabis, Aleafia Health, Hexo Corp., Cronos Group, Organigram Holdings, MediPharm Labs Corp. and their various subsidiaries and brands are all named as defendants in the documents filed in the Court of the Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
In the statement of claim dated June 16, 2020, the plaintiff, Lisa Marie Langevin from Calgary, Alberta, claims that the named companies sold cannabis products to consumers and patients “with THC or CBD content levels that were drastically different from the amount advertised on the label.”
Health Canada regulations allow for a 15% variance in cannabinoid content from what producers list on product labels. In other words, a product’s actual potency is required to be within 85%-115% of what is listed on the label. In the claim, Langevin’s attorney states that independent lab verification of the defendants’ products should potency ranging from 52% to 119% of what was advertised.
(As of press time, Organigram declined to comment, citing a policy of not speaking on current legal proceedings, and the other named defendants did not reply to a request for comment.)
In the filing, Langevin claims to have bought a 30ml bottle of cannabis tincture produced by a Tilray subsidiary on Feb. 13, 2020. The product was labeled as containing 10.4 milligrams of THC per milliliter (10.4mg/ml) and included its packaging date (Feb. 3, 2019), but did not include an expiration date. After following the recommended dosage from the budtender to avoid “greening out,” Langevin claimed to have felt no psychotropic effects. After increasing the dosage slightly on five more occasions to no avail, Langevin allegedly asked a friend, Dr. Darren Clark, a PhD in neuroscience who was familiar with cannabis, about the issue. After sampling the product and also feeling no effect, Clark tapped Dr. Shaun Mesher, a biochemist. Further lab analysis by Mesher showed the product only had 46% of the labeled amount of THC.
A second bottle with the same lot number (although with a March 2, 2019, packaging date) was tested, revealing the product only had 79% of the labeled THC, which spurred Langevin and the doctors to test a wider array of products. The results are found in the filing:
- An Edison Cannabis Co. (an Organigram brand) tincture with an advertised THC potency of 10.4mg/ml had 71% of the labeled amount;
- A Lift & Co. (another Organigram brand) tincture with an advertised THC potency of 19.89mg/ml had 64% of the labeled amount;
- A Cove (a Cronos brand) product with an advertised THC potency of 18mg/ml had 118% of the labeled amount;
- A MediPharm Labs product with an advertised THC potency of 24.5mg/ml had 119% of the labeled amount;
- An AgMedica Bioscience product with an advertised THC potency of 20.64mg/ml had 54% of the labeled amount. (AgMedican Bioscience did issue a recall alert four days prior to the court filing about its Vertical Pomegranate Blueberry and Vertical Lemon Lime beverages after in-house testing showed “that the quantity of THC in the product may decrease over time. Therefore, it is possible that products contain less than the labeled quantity of THC,” according to the June 12 advisory);
- Aurora Sativa drops with an advertised THC potency of 24.7mg/ml had 54% of the labeled amount;
- An Edison product with an advertised CBD potency of 9.69mg/ml had 52% of the labeled amount.
In the filing, the plaintiff claims that the defendants mislead consumers as to the potency of their products and did not ensure that packaging properly stored said products, citing a study done on American cannabis products stored in plastic containers “leaching” cannabinoids into the plastic. This mislabeling is claimed to dangerously mislead consumers and patients as to their own tolerance of cannabis products which could lead them to taking a larger dose with harmful results, as well as unjustly enrich producers selling a “watered down” product.
In addition to an accounting of all revenues earned by the defendants since June 9, 2018 (more than four months prior to adult-use sales starting in Canada), Langevin is seeking damages of $500 million on behalf of the class, including $5 million in punitive damages against each of the defendants.