A Nova Scotia judge has approved a class-action lawsuit filed against a cannabis producer in New Brunswick.
The producer, OrganiGram in Moncton, is accused of supplying customers with cannabis that was contaminated with unapproved pesticides in 2016, which made customers sick.
A hearing over the case, which took two days, was held in Halifax in June 2018.
Last week, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Ann E. Smith released a 111-page decision that certified the class-action. Dawn Rae Downton, a Halifax local who was affected by the tainted cannabis, was appointed as the representative plaintiff.
There are two parts to the claim, as explained by lawyer Ray Wagner, who represents the plaintiffs.
“The first part relates to the refund - people bought something that was not what it was made out to be and so we want to return the funds that they had paid as anybody who purchased something, a good or a service, that is not up to snuff and, in this case, where it breached the regulations under the Health Canada regime on cannabis,” Wagner remarked.
The second part, he said, refers to client experiences after using the cannabis.
“A large number of our class members have also reported that they were ill during this period of time, suffered a lot of signs and symptoms of illness that they correlate to the timing that they consumed this particular product,” he said.
Downton last year told CBC News in an interview that the contaminated medical cannabis – prescribed to her for her back pain – led to side effects such as nausea and vomiting, which have caused her to “lose eight months of her life.”
In addition to Downton, 176 people have registered with Wagner for the class action.
OrganiGram’s medical cannabis was subjected to two major recalls on two separate occasions – late 2016 and early 2017 – after the pesticides myclobutanil and/or bifenazate were detected. The cannabis products were produced between February 01 and December 16, 2016.
Following the recalls, OrganiGram’s organic certification was suspended.
The company has issued a statement, obtained by CBC News, following news of the class-action’s approval.
“Certification is not a decision on the merits of the lawsuit, but simply deals with the proper procedure for a lawsuit, which allows it to continue to the next stage,” the company said.
OrganiGram added that it is reviewing the decision to appeal the case.
“OrganiGram has already voluntarily reimbursed many of its customers for this recall via a comprehensive credit and refund program,” the company noted.
“Organigram has insurance to cover the cost of legal fees associated with the defense of the class action. Insurance coverage may also cover some or all of any monetary damages associated with any resolution of this matter. While the ultimate outcome of any court process is difficult to ascertain, Organigram management does not anticipate that the class action (including the resolution thereof) will impact its business or operations in any material manner,”