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B.C. doctor calls out Canadian Medical Association for publishing 'myths' about edibles

Last Updated Jan 9, 2020 at 11:37 am MST

File photo: Edibles for sale at 4/20 at Sunset Beach in 2019. (Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)

A B.C. doctor is still trying to fight misinformation he sees being published in major science journals about edibles

Dr. Ian Mitchell took to Twitter to call out the CMAJ for publishing an article he says is spreading myths

It's not the first time the Canadian Medical Association Journal has been called out for so-called fear mongering

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A Kamloops doctor says the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an article spreading the kind of misinformation often perpetuated by the Trump administration.

You may have heard this before: cannabis edibles could be contaminated with potentially dangerous or deadly narcotics. That’s the specific claim made by two University of Toronto researchers that Dr. Ian Mitchell just isn’t standing for.

“Dear @CMAJ, there has NEVER been a confirmed case of #cannabis contaminated with narcotics,” he says on Twitter.

“This is a complete myth that is typically spread by Trump officials,” says the emergency room physician, who has more than a decade of experience.

Mitchell says there’s never been a confirmed case of narcotic contamination in cannabis products, despite warnings in a recently published article.

“We haven’t been able to study it. The research into any benefits of cannabis has been forbidden for the last four decades. Ninety per cent of all the cannabis research that has been done has been focused on harms, so we have a very distorted view of cannabis,” he explains, adding regulations since legalization has made it more difficult for Canadian doctors to research cannabis.

As for narcotic contamination, Mitchell says it’s physically impossible to ingest drugs like fentanyl by smoking a joint.

“There’s been no reports ever confirming this. There’s been a lot of samples that have been sent to the government and they’ve been tested, but none of them have ever shown up to be positive for any narcotics. That’s something that’s never happened,” he says.

Mitchell says the article is “fear-mongering” and argues spreading inaccurate information makes it less likely kids and teens will take legitimate warnings about drugs seriously.

Pesticides and botulism concerns

The authors, Jasleen K. Grewal and Lawrence C. Loh, are researchers at the University of Toronto in the department of Family and Community Medicine.

They write, “Risks of such products include spread of foodborne illness, overdose owing to variable THC content of products, poisoning from pesticide residues, and potential for unexpected effects given that illicit products may be contaminated with other drugs, such as narcotics.”

The citation attached to that paragraph leads the reader to a Denver Colorado Public Health Inspection memo, which outlines the risks of botulism but does not mention narcotics contamination.

The study also calls on the government to “amended regulations concerning edibles limit dosing, prohibit formulations with other psychoactive substances, and require safety measures with regard to packaging and production.”

Cannabis edibles are already limited to doses of 10 milligrams or less per packaging, which some users say is actually too low.

Vancouver-based pot activist Dana Larsen, who is also an early retailer in the grey market, has also taken aim at the journal previously — and again this week.

“Doctor warns that cannabis edibles can be addictive!” Larsen writes on Twitter. “I’m not even sure cannabis edibles are habit forming.”

Larsen previously called out the journal for an article that says the media is making it seem that pot is safer than opioids. More than 2,400 people have died from illicit drug overdoses in B.C. in the last two years.

While cannabis edibles have been legal in Canada for weeks, demand has left store shelves empty.