Supreme Court won't hear Organigram tainted marijuana class action case

·2 min read

The Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear an appeal of a Nova Scotia court decision that reduced the scope of a class action lawsuit against Organigram Inc. over medical marijuana tainted with pesticides.

The case stemmed from allegations that marijuana grown and sold by the Moncton-based company contained pesticides not approved for use that made its users sick.

The class-action lawsuit was filed after two large recalls in late 2016 and early 2017 of medical cannabis produced between Feb. 1 and Dec. 16, 2016 after testing found "trace" amounts of bifenazate, malathion and myclobutanil.

The pesticides are authorized for agricultural use but not for cannabis.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruled in April that the plaintiff failed to present enough evidence that the cannabis caused illness. As a result, members of the class can't claim damages for health effects.

Elizabeth Chiu/CBC
Elizabeth Chiu/CBC

Dawn Rae Downton of Halifax is the representative plaintiff in the case represented by lawyer Ray Wagner.

Downton said she experienced nausea, dizziness and headaches, symptoms that subsided after she stopped consuming Organigram's cannabis.

They sought to appeal the Nova Scotia decision at the country's highest court. The Supreme Court selects only a small number of appeals to hear.

The court announced Thursday morning it won't hear the Organigram case. That upholds the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision.

As is standard, it didn't say why it declined to hear the case.

"She's obviously very disappointed, but thankful that we did our best to do what we could to try to bring this to the light of day and to compensate people for the harm that's been caused to them," Wagner said in an interview Thursday about his client.

The Nova Scotia court had ruled that there wasn't a workable methodology to determine that the proposed adverse health-effects claims have a common cause.

What remains in the case relates to reimbursement of payments to customers who purchased cannabis in 2016.

Organigram declined to comment Thursday.

In a statement earlier this year, the company said it would continue to defend itself.

"Organigram will continue to defend what remains of the class action as it has already voluntarily reimbursed many of its customers for this recall via a comprehensive credit and refund program," the company said following the appeal court decision.